DVIDS – News – USAG Rheinland-Pfalz employees save lives in historic floods
RHEINLAND-PFALZ, Germany – At least eight employees of the US Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz braved flooding and devastation to help their compatriots on July 15 during some of the worst flooding the country has ever seen.
Five off-duty garrison firefighters and three local-national employees of the Baumholder military community put their out-of-service expertise to good use, saving lives during the horrific floods that ravaged western Germany and Belgium. The eight employees report to the Public Works Department.
Lukas Seibert, 23, has been a refrigeration / air conditioning specialist for the garrison since July 1. On weekends, he is part of the German Rescue Association (DLRG), lifeguards who monitor lakes, swimming pools and other bodies of water across the country. , taking care of swimmers and boaters. The volunteer-only force also receives special training in whitewater rescue and flooding, which is why commanders on the scene called Seibert’s unit.
“I had seen the photos and video of the floods before,” Seibert said. “As soon as the call came in, there was no question of going to help.”
Christoph Himbert, a firefighter from the Baumholder military community, answered the call when officials called volunteer firefighters from his hometown of Saarbrücken in historic Trier, Germany, on July 15.
“It was shocking,” Himbert said. “It was a totally disaster area. Just complete devastation. The streets had several feet of water flowing over them, cars had taken off and were buried in mud, houses were damaged and debris was everywhere.
The largest rivers of the Rhine and Moselle overflowed their banks into western Germany. Experts say the record-breaking rainfall dumped three months of rain over the region in three days and inundated smaller rivers and tributaries. Waves of brown water from the river flooded historic towns and villages from July 15.
The death toll from the floods was over 150, and nearly 1,300 were missing or unaccounted for as of July 19.
Seibert’s crew used rescue boats to navigate their way through the small village of Kordel, about 50 miles northwest of Baumholder. Water flooded the village of about 2,900 people, coming from the little river Kyll.
“We were there from 11 am Thursday until about 3 pm Friday looking for anyone we could help. The water was above the first floor of each building, ”Seibert recalls. “By the end of our shift, we had rescued nearly 100 people. “
The Saarbrücken crew took their emergency medical unit, a mobile first-aid station with prepackaged medical supplies, to the Trier suburbs of Biewer and Ahrang.
Himbert said he and the other Saarbrücken volunteers spent eight hours there.
“Everything was blocked off, so we only encountered those who entered the emergency shelter,” Himbert said. “They were dazed. A gentleman had to leave his house so quickly that he was only wearing his underwear. He did not have time to take other clothes.
Firefighters and rescuers received after-action counseling to check their mental health after passing through the devastated areas.
None of the garrison employees missed their next day of work.
A total of five USAG RP firefighters / first responders gave up their days off to work with their local community’s volunteer fire departments during the worst flooding.
“We are proud of our garrison firefighters and their dedication to the garrison community and their hometown communities,” said USAG RP Fire Chief William Maciorowski.
Other USAG RP firefighters who contributed were: firefighter Wicko Forler, Sembach Kaserne and a member of the Goellheim fire department; Firefighter Timo Theisinger Miseau Army Depot and member of the Sulzbachtal fire department; firefighter Bernd Steininger, from the Kaiserslautern East fire station and member of the fire department of the city of Zweibrucken; dispatcher Raphael Dufour of the Rhine Ammunition Barracks and a member of the Zweibrucken County Fire Department; and Dirk Barz, fire inspector on ROB and member of the Reichenbach-Steegen fire department. These employees gave up days off to help with rescue efforts with their hometown fire stations.
Metal worker Udo Eifler and electrician Philipp Schafer of Baumholder DPW also visited flood scenes with their local fire departments.
“This is the biggest event I’ve ever been to as a firefighter,” Himbert said. “My heart goes out to all those affected by this disaster. ”
Authorities are asking the public to stay away from flooded areas. The areas are dangerous even for qualified rescue teams.
At the time of publication, the state of Rheinland-Pfalz has not asked the US military to help with the rescue operation.
On Friday July 16, an appeal was made to the military community of Kaiserslautern for a donation to the German Red Cross (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz). The response from surrounding communities was so large that DRK officials ultimately refused donations, citing lack of space from previous donations to store items at their facilities in Ramstein and Landstuhl.
|Date posted:||07/19.2021 10:23|
|Location:||BAUMHOLDER, RP, DE|
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