Friday, June 7, 2013

The attack of the Hochwasser

Living along the Rhine has its literal ups and downs. This week specifically saw a pretty dramatic up, as in, the water levels.

Due to heavy downpour in the entirety of central Europe last weekend, every river was running high and pouring all the extra water into the large rivers, like the Donau and the Rhine. I got back from a visit to England on Monday, having not really checked the news for several days, to find that a bunch of ship traffic was waiting on one side of the bridge because the water levels were too high for the huge cargo vessels to fit underneath. This happens with some frequency, since ships are built larger and larger and bridges are not similarly supersized. I figured there had been some rain and the river had gone up a few feet.

Ha. Hahahahaha.

See the bush? That's where the path normally is.

The ducks are having a grand ol' time.

Construction bits moved to the top of the wall

Dirt and gravel dumped in the gap in the wall.

The river is trying to sneak around the gravel!

This entire area is usually construction headquarters.

The fire department helpfully installed this high walk, just in case the river actually made it past the wall that was purposefully built to keep it from getting this far. You know, the construction that woke me up for a month straight when I first moved to my apartment? The huge machines I still dodge nearly every morning on my way to the bus? The wall that has cost the city a great deal of time and money, and means that my lovely view of the Rhine is obstructed by backhoes and mobile offices?

Apparently no one trusts it.

So if the water were to come up as far as the houses, the fire department would bring in steps or ladders and we could all walk high above the river, safe and dry. Then presumably I could enter through my neighbor's window, swim downstairs to my apartment, and...cook? This seems rather unhelpful for those of us blessed/cursed with a first-floor dwelling. This is presumably why my landlady lives on the second floor of her house next door and rents out the first floor.

You will be happy to know that these pictures represent the highest that the water ever came. My apartment is safe, my feet are dry, and the river is slowly returning to its usual place. It's not quite there yet - the path is still underwater, with ducks and swans merrily paddling about - but I'm hopeful that by early next week I can go for my walks along the no-longer-flooding Rhine.

(Hochwasser, literally "high water", is the German word for flooding. Where English-speakers would say that the river is flooding, Germans say that the "high water comes!")

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