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Article

Here Comes the Flood, but Not Failure? Lessons to Learn after the Heavy Rain and Pluvial Floods in Germany 2021

1
Institute of Rescue Engineering and Civil Protection, TH Köln—University of Applied Sciences, 50678 Köln, Germany
2
Institute for Environment and Human Security, United Nations University (UNU-EHS), 53113 Bonn, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Eric Duviella and Pablo Segovia
Water 2021, 13(21), 3016; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213016
Received: 14 September 2021 / Revised: 19 October 2021 / Accepted: 25 October 2021 / Published: 27 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Water Management and Flood Mitigation)
Floods are a known natural hazard in Germany, but the amount of precipitation and ensuing high death toll and damages after the events especially from 14 to 15 July 2021 came as a surprise. Almost immediately questions about failure in the early warning chains and the effectiveness of the German response emerged, also internationally. This article presents lessons to learn and argues against a blame culture. The findings are based on comparisons with findings from previous research projects carried out in the Rhein-Erft Kreis and the city of Cologne, as well as on discussions with operational relief forces after the 2021 events. The main disaster aspects of the 2021 flood are related to issuing and understanding warnings, a lack of information and data exchange, unfolding upon a situation of an ongoing pandemic and aggravated further by critical infrastructure failure. Increasing frequencies of flash floods and other extremes due to climate change are just one side of the transformation and challenge, Germany and neighbouring countries are facing. The vulnerability paradox also heavily contributes to it; German society became increasingly vulnerable to failure due to an increased dependency on its infrastructure and emergency system, and the ensuing expectations of the public for a perfect system. View Full-Text
Keywords: flash flood; cascading impacts; compounding event; multi-risk; disaster risk management; Germany flash flood; cascading impacts; compounding event; multi-risk; disaster risk management; Germany
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MDPI and ACS Style

Fekete, A.; Sandholz, S. Here Comes the Flood, but Not Failure? Lessons to Learn after the Heavy Rain and Pluvial Floods in Germany 2021. Water 2021, 13, 3016. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213016

AMA Style

Fekete A, Sandholz S. Here Comes the Flood, but Not Failure? Lessons to Learn after the Heavy Rain and Pluvial Floods in Germany 2021. Water. 2021; 13(21):3016. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213016

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fekete, Alexander, and Simone Sandholz. 2021. "Here Comes the Flood, but Not Failure? Lessons to Learn after the Heavy Rain and Pluvial Floods in Germany 2021" Water 13, no. 21: 3016. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13213016

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