Climate Impacts and society
Within the last month we have seen a variety of natural disasters, often concering heavy rainfall events and flooding. With climate warming continuously escalating, the probability for such disasters also increases. While the techniques presented in this newsletter are tremendously usefull in the mitigation and adaptation to some of the risks we face concerning the water climate crisis nexus, such disasters will still occur and we need to find methods to cope with them. When bad things happen to a society, it is important to come closer together and help each other. So, in case of floods and heavy rains, how can we help?
My personal story
Some of you already know this story, others don’t, but for me it was an impressive experience of unconditional help & humanity and I love sharing it as often as possible because it truly manifested a positive image of society within me:
In summer of 2021, large parts of western Germany were hit by extremely heavy rainstorms, causing severe flooding, especially in the Ahr-Valley and Eifel. This flooding also affected the house of my grandmother. It was a truly awful situation, especially as the flood cut all communication wires, thus increasing the time for help to be notified. When I got the phone-call from my mother, who was able to reach her by noon, I immediately started packing and got on the next train to the Eifel. When we drove to my grandmothers house the next morning, the little town in the nice valley did not resemble anything we knew or had ever seen before. At the house, everything was drenched and covered in a thick layer of disgustingly smelling mud (I wont ever be able to forget that smell). There was lots of clearing and cleaning to be done.
However as the situation may look hopeless, what was really interesting was that just as the water started disappearing, volunteer helpers started appearing. On the first day, only from the surrounding towns, then from all over the state and at the end from all over Germany. In the following days over 30 people from family, friends but also total strangers (who quickly became friends) started helping with clearing and cleaning. The house was buzzing with people. And this was no an exception. The whole neighbourhood was filled with people from all over the country, offering help and providing food, drinks and equipment. The help also did not only last for a couple of days but continued for months.
Witnessing the unconditional help from total strangers deeply established a positive image of humanity.
Ways you can help
So, how can you help before, during and after the next natural disaster?
First themost important point: only do what you feel comfortable and don’t endanger yourself!
– Preparing for heavy rain events: One issue during severe weather are clogged sewer gutters. They disable water from draining the streets, leading to pooling and flooded basements. When you walk around your neighbourhood and see gutters full of leaves or sewer inlets clogged, inform your local city cleaning department or just try to unclog them yourself with a stick
– After Thunderstorms and heavy rains: During heavy thunderstorms, branches and even whole trees can be knocked down, blocking streets. This impedes emergency response like ambulances and the fire department from quickly reaching people in need of help. So if the storm is over and the branches not too heavy, try clearing the streets a bit (watch out for traffic!).
– After larger natural catastrophes like severe flooding: Consider going there to help. If only for a day, this can truly make a difference in the life of a person needing help. You could buy some food and water, cleaning utensils or other equipment and distribute it. Also, during many recent disasters, help-platforms quickly emerged on the internet where people could indicate their needs and volunteers could respond accordingly. In case of the small town where my grandmother lives, within 3 days a local NGO provided somewhat of a “helpers market”, coordinating needs, supplies and helping volunteers
Also, if you don’t have time and still want to help, consider donating to a charity benefiting the victims
Two useful Links if you are German:
– Helfer-Stab: its a NGO coordinating volunteer help within Germany and also a great ressource to find other helping networks for worldwide volunteer help: https://helfer-stab.de/
– Aktion-Deutschland-Hilft: is a network of most german charities, collegting donations and providing help during different humanitarian and natural disasters: https://www.aktion-deutschland-hilft.de/
One globaly usefull link
– Volunteer Match: its a website where volunteers can find places and people which need their help: https://www.volunteermatch.org/
WaterWednesday is back from summer vacation! This time with a topic close to my heart: Public aid during natural disasters. After the 2021 flood in Germany, my family could witness unconditional help & humanity by total strangers. I love sharing the story and my insights in how you can help too during the next flood, because the situation truly manifested a positive image of society within me.