This week's floods in Germany and Eastern Europe have led to extreme water levels along the Saale and Danube rivers. Statistically speaking, we would expect to see the current water levels in locations like Halle and Passau in Germany only once every 400 and 500 years, respectively.
The dramatic images of the floods show how frightening nature can be. Many of the same regions that were hit in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria during the floods of August 2002 are once again affected – just 11 years later.
But every cloud has a silver lining. Following the 2002 events, many communities put in place new flood defenses. In most cases these measures have now proved to be effective, having averted further damage and devastation. The city of Prague is a good example where better flood protection and mobile flood barriers have kept the water out of the Czech capital's historic centre. In many other places affected by the 2002 floods, investments in adaptation measures have fully paid off within a very short period of time.
It will never be possible to prevent losses from all floods. In addition, climate change, industrialization and growing population densities mean that floods are bound to have more severe impacts without further preemptive action. Only if there are constant improvements to prevention and adaptation will flood losses be kept at a manageable level and stay insurable in the future.
Image source: flickr creative commons/athos[hun]
Category: Climate/natural disasters
Location: Central Europe