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GIs Help West Germans In Flood-Prevention Efforts

March 30, 1988

FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ U.S. servicemen joined West German firefighters Wednesday in piling sandbags to protect the city of Wiesbaden from the floodwaters of the swollen Rhine River.

Thousands of volunteers have pitched in the past three days to protect people’s lives and property from flooding.

Six people are believed to have died in flood-related accidents.

Floodwaters slowly receded in most of West Germany on Wednesday, but the situation along the Danube River in central Bavaria state was still critical after the worst flooding in 70 years. About 3,500 Bavarians had fled their homes.

In Wiesbaden, U.S. Air Force security police and West German firefighters worked to shore up dikes on the Rhine River with sandbags.

″We had 70 security police working out there all night with West German firemen,″ U.S. Air Force spokesman Hans Ostertag said.

No major flooding problems were reported Wednesday in Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, as the Rhine receded from dangerous levels.

Residents of Ahofling, a Bavarian hamlet 12 miles east of Regensburg, stayed up Tuesday night trying to keep the Danube from inundating their homes.

″Most of the 415 residents of Ahofling were up all night filling sandbags to bolster a dike,″ said Herbert Zeitler, a state spokesman.

″The waters are receding slowly but there is still danger of breaks in the dike,″ said Zeitler.

Zeitler said property damage ″will run in the millions″ of dollars.

The Bavarian Interior Ministry warned the situation could again worsen if warmer weather accompanied by heavy rains speeds up the spring thaw of snow in mountainous areas.

″The ground is saturated and it will take several months before it will again be able to absorb any large amounts of water,″ the ministry said in a statement.

In Bonn, Chancellor Helmut Kohl issued a statement expressing condolences to the familes of those who died in the floods and gratitude to people who pitched in to help avert further catastrophes.

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