I’m interrupting the planned schedule to bring you some news from Germany.
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being horrified watching the scenes of carnage and devastation from the unprecedented flooding which recently hit many parts of central Europe, and in particular Germany. The death toll is at 171, while 155 people remain missing, with the president of the country’s disaster relief organisation now saying she does not expect rescuers to find any more survivors.
My immediate thoughts were for two very good and old friends of this corner of t’internet, Dirk and Walter, both of whom came to Glasgow a few years ago when a small group of bloggers decided a meeting in person was long overdue. I was sure that Walter would be fine, as his home city of Stuttgart had been spared the worst of the downpour. Dirk, however, I wasn’t so sure about, and this was confirmed with this part of the response from Walter to the e-mail I had sent to both of them:-
many thanks for your mail. Everything is fine with me and slowly normal life comes back as we knew in the times before the pandemic. Although I suspect it won’t be too long. Thank God I am not affected in my region by the rains and the floods, but as far as I know the area in the Dirk lives the full force of the storm hit him.”
Two anxious days passed before an e-mail dropped in from Dirk. It was short, simply saying that he and his family were OK but that he wasn’t at home just now, adding that he would get back to me in detail once he had returned. He was as good as his word:-
“Hello JC, hello Walter,
First of all thanks VERY much for being worried/taking care/asking. I can assure you though that everything is fine over here, and although I live in a region which basically was surrounded by the floods, nothing at all happened to the village. Also, I live on a bit of a hill anyway, so all I had to do was to empty the swimming pool a bit before I left for a few days away on Thursday. And that trip was the only reason why I couldn’t write earlier, I just HATE to write longer messages on my mobile … too old-fashioned, me, I suppose …
In fact, we went to a vineyard in Rhineland-Palatinate where I probably ate and certainly drank too much, but also this region was not affected. But I crossed the Mosselle river as well as the Ahr river on my way and what I was able to see from the motorway down in the valleys was really shocking.
I mean, people who live at the rivers are used to high tides and all the villages have high tide protection systems and plans. But what happened there last week was so “special”, there was no way whatsoever for them to cope with it in the shortness of time. I just watched an interview on the telly with the mayor of Schuld – a small village which by and large fully got destroyed – and he said that they had a high tide of 3.60 meters in 2016. After which they improved their system, but no-one could do anything at all against the masses of water which hit the village last week in the middle of the night. The wave was 8.86 (!!) meters, he said, and apparently it didn’t slowly build up, but came rushing down instead within seconds.
The only “family and friends – damage” I know about was in my sister’s cellar, but they had mostly everything in shelves, perhaps the floor can even be saved, but first of all it has to dry fully before they know for sure. And if not, well, it’s just a bloody floor, a bit of laminate, nothing serious.
Nothing serious anyway compared to the hundreds of people who lost their lives, are still missing and/or haven’t got a home any longer. One problem will turn out to be the various forms of insurances here in Germany. If you have a house, you have to insure it. But if you’re not specifically insured against natural hazard, you will get nothing from the insurance for the house, just for what was in it. Now every bloody politician says: ‘No need to worry, we will take care of you”. But I know German bureaucracy, believe me, and I’m willing to have a small bet that those poor people will wait forever for any government money.
So, hard times indeed, luckily not for me. All in all, I coped rather well with Covid, mainly because it meant that I could work from home three weeks out of four. Which I enjoyed very much. Still do, in fact, because – as Walter said – with all the lowered restrictions, it’s just a question of time when the whole mess will start again. But before it does, I will be away again (the week after next) to the Baltic Sea with my brother-in-law’s caravan. Very much looking forward to this as well, because basically it will turn out to be a repetition of the vineyard-trip. Only with beer instead of wine, I suppose.”
Dirk’s e-mail went on to explain why he had been quiet of late, offering all sorts of wholly unnecessary apologies. Not surprisingly, like all of us in these unprecedented times, his priorities have shifted increasingly towards his family and his own physical and mental well-being, and he’s not spent too much time browsing round music blogs in the way he used to. He has, on the plus side, built himself a Tiki-bar!!
Our exchanges ended on a positive note, with me promising that, as soon as travelling becomes more possible and enjoyable again, to make a trip over to Germany to meet up with both Dirk and Walter, two of the nicest and most genuine folk on Planet Earth.
As Dirk is a huge Clash fan, the title of this one seems appropriate today:-
mp3: The Clash – Safe European Home
Thanks for reading.