Germany's Lessons to Learn Following the 2021 Floods
The flood disaster in 2021 was the deadliest water-related disaster in Germany over the past 60 years and has resulted in financial losses of more than 30 billion Euros as well over 180 fatalities. The magnitude and the impact of the flood disaster was a surprise for many, and consequently extensive studies have been initiated to investigate how the impacts of such extreme events can be minimised in the future. Overall, the focus of disaster risk management should be shifted more towards prevention, preparedness and mitigation, however, also crisis and emergency management should be strengthened. Importantly, many of these lessons learned also apply to the management of other risks including wildfires.
In order to facilitate a more disaster resilient society, risk awareness and risk communication needs to be improved to more effectively prepare local decision-makers and the general population. Additionally, disaster preparedness requires better risk mapping and the improvement of evacuation plans following an all-hazards approach. Unexpected hazard chains and failures of technical infrastructure must be included in scenario development. Early warning procedures and crisis communication must be evaluated in detail and improved to ensure risk-informed reactions of the people more effectively. Moreover, emergency response activities by all actors, including spontaneous helpers, require more coordination. Only by learning from past events can we increase the resilience of society as a whole.