“Worldwide most expensive natural disaster hit Germany” – this was the heading of a German newspaper article in January 2014. Even though the so called “June-flood” in south and east Germany in 2013 caused considerably less damage than Irvy and Harvey this year, the incident shows that even Germany – far away from active volcanoes, tropical storms, typhoons, tsunamis and dangerous earthquake zones - is not safe from weather-related disasters.
Time and again great accidents hit the country in the past. Most expensive are storm events like the winterstorm “Kyrill” in 2007, which cause about 75 % of the total loss to the economy in terms of natural catastrophes. Second most expensive are flooding and flash floods, followed by heat waves, frost and forest fires. Least expensive are earthquakes and landslides, which cause only 1 % of the total loss to the economy.
When the “June-flood” of 2013 destroyed homes, cars, streets and railway networks it caused a total loss of 11.7 billion Euros. However, absolute figures do not reveal much about the consequences. In the same year Taifun Haiyan in the Philippines lead to a great humanitarian tragedy with 6000 people being killed and millions stripped of their roofs. The total economic damage of 8 billion Euros was below the costs of the German “June-flood”. But this sum corresponds to 4 % of the gross domestic product of the Philippines while the just under 12 billion Euros of the “June-flood” made up only 0,4 % of the German annual economic output. In addition, German insurances repaid one fifth of the damage, while only a three-digit million amount was refunded to Philippines.
Overall is the German government certain, that weather-related accidents will increase in intensity as well as frequency. On the portal page of civil protection the Ministry of Inferior sums up the most important reasons for this development as followed: climate change, global population growth, concentration of population and values in urban areas, population and industrialisation of exposed locations like coasts and vulnerability of modern society and technology.
by Schirin H.