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Ready or not, here they come: Be prepared for the German flood season

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

Editor’s note: References for information are cited using superscript annotations and included at the end of this article.

Floods cost Germans an estimated €3.8 billion annually in loss and damages, and this number has been increasing over the last several decades due to the higher frequency and severity of flooding.

Spangdahlem Airmen and their families are not immune to these effects.

Areas that have never been affected are now flooding. In 2018, several Airman were displaced from their homes and property destroyed due to flooding in the region.

Spangdahlem Air Base lies in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate which is home to the Rhine, Mosel, and Prüm rivers and their tributaries. The state government has already assessed over 3,000 km of waterways and begun to map the hazard areas. These hazard maps are publicly available here.1

How can you protect yourself and minimize your risk? Follow these five steps:

  1. Understand your renter’s insurance policy – Most renters’ policies do not protect against flood damage.2 If your possessions are damaged or destroyed by flooding, you may not be covered. Review your policy and contact your insurance provider about flood coverage. A policy change can take up to 30 days to go into effect, so prior planning is key. Additionally, insurance claims can be extremely expensive, so understand your deductibles and make an informed decision on what level of risk is acceptable to you.
  2. Inventory your belongings – Take account of all your belongings before something bad happens. Technology has made this task incredibly easy! Create digital copies of important documents and utilize inventory apps to take photos of, tag and categorize your items right from your smart phone, saving it to the cloud. That way, even if your phone is destroyed, you will still have the information needed to make insurance claim.
  3. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” – Flood waters are deceptive. What may look shallow and slow moving may be deep and raging underneath. According to the Center for Disease Control, 76% of all known flood deaths occurred where the vehicle operator drove into the flood waters.3 DO NOT RISK IT. 
  4. Have a plan – Be informed – Knowing what actions to take during a flood can save your life. Use the FEMA’s Ready website (https://www.ready.gov/floods) to help you come up with an action plan. If others rely on you, make sure they know the plan too. Ensure your contact information is updated in AtHoc. You can do this by accessing the self-service actions on your NIPR computer. The base utilizes AtHoc to notify you of potential natural disasters.
  5. Let us help – The Office of Emergency Management is here for you. If you have questions, need advice or want us to explain more about flooding, please contact us at DSN: 314-452-6501 or +49-6565-61-6501 when calling commercial from a German phone number.

While you cannot prevent natural disasters, you can minimize your risk to an acceptable level by adhering to these recommendations. Just remember that no physical objects are worth losing your life or the lives of the ones you love.

References:

  1. Hochwassergefahren- und -risikokarten. Rhineland-Pfalz Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie, Ernährung und Forsten. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://hochwassermanagement.rlp-umwelt.de/servlet/is/8662/.
  2. Hayes, Marianne. “Does Renters Insurance Cover Flood Damage?,” December 9, 2020. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/does-renters-insurance-cover-flood/.
  3. “Storm-Related Mortality --- Central Texas, October 17-31, 1998.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4907a1.htm.