Dhe overload did not end. Days after the start of the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate took over the operations management from the Ahrweiler district, but the situation apparently remained chaotic and uncoordinated. This emerges from witness statements made by firefighters and representatives of the Federal Academy for Civil Protection and Civil Defense (BABZ) before the investigative committee in the state parliament.
Three days after the flood on July 14, 2021, the competent supervisory and service authority (ADD) took over command of the operation on July 17; the work had previously been moved to the premises of the Academy, which is based in the Ahrweiler district. At this point, people were still missing.
The minutes of an employee of the BABZ, which were read out in the committee, showed that a lot of things got mixed up in the crisis team under ADD management. There was no order and no peace, objects were lying around in a passage room where the operations center had settled. In addition, there was no command center for communications, so the staff members were “inundated” with messages.
lack of basic knowledge
The author of the protocol, Ulf Krüger, normally trains civil protection officers at the BABZ. In his view, the work of the staff had not corresponded to what was being taught. Alexandra Römer, who had been sent by the Munich fire department to provide support, made a similar statement. She would have had the feeling that the colleagues in Ahrweiler “were not pre-trained,” she told the committee. In some places, there was a lack of basic knowledge of the command structures in civil protection.
Markus Hauser from the Stuttgart professional fire brigade, who had been sent to provide support, also perceived the situation as “mess” days after the actual flood. “We are used to there being a chaos phase of minutes. There was a chaotic phase of days here,” said Hauser. Parts of the task force were not sufficiently staffed, he said. Although it was not intended that way, the Stuttgarter subsequently helped out in the task force. Even before he arrived in the Ahr Valley, Hauser was surprised that the decision in Rhineland-Palatinate apparently took several days as to whether management support should be requested from the neighboring country.
An offer of help from the Federal Academy was only partially accepted. Shortly after the onset of the disaster, the authority suggested coaching the operations commander; in addition, some of their lecturers, who had a lot of experience, were to take over positions in the operational command. In the beginning, however, ADD only decided on coaching, which only lasted a good one and a half hours. Although the Federal Academy maintained its offer of further support, it was not taken up despite the fact that it was clearly overwhelmed.
After the resignation of the interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Roger Lewentz (SPD), the opposition in the state parliament focused on the role of the ADD and its president, Linnertz. The CDU and Free Voters had already called for his resignation months ago. Linnertz was recently criticized for the fact that around 120 videos were not passed on to the committee of inquiry during the flood disaster. Linnertz apologized for this and spoke of an “accident”. Hundreds of pieces of evidence from the police also did not go to the committee. The state interior ministry has announced an internal audit.