Ansbach soldiers aid in Germany flood cleanup
June 3, 2016
WIESBADEN, Germany — After severe flooding that affected much of Germany and other parts of Europe, the mayor of the Bavarian town of Markt Obernzenn reached out to the nearby U.S. Army garrison at Ansbach for assistance in repairing his stricken community.
More than 30 soldiers from the 5th Aviation Detachment, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade have been spending much of the past week working alongside residents of Obernzenn to clear clogged drains and clean out severely flooded basements.
“They were seeing water about a meter (three feet) high at some points,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kelly Wolfe, commander of the “Badger” detachment, said in a telephone interview.
“Every basement in the town proper got flooded. There was enough running water to knock down some old sandstone walls,” he said. “I’d say about 50 percent of the town received flood damage in some way.”
The Associated Press reported Friday that 10 people had died due to the flooding in Germany, six of them in Bavaria.
Obernzenn lies at the bottom of a valley, along a small river, and much of the water from upstream cascaded onto the town after heavy rain and hail. Unlike the larger nearby city of Ansbach, which did receive some damage, the town’s drainage system was not prepared for the volume of water.
Videos of the flooding were posted on social media, which alerted 1st Sgt. Camron Emmanuel, the detachment first sergeant, even before the appeal from Mayor Markus Heindel.
“When I mentioned it to the soldiers, they had seen it as well and wanted to help,” Emmanuel said by telephone. “It’s truly humbling to see how the soldiers were motivated to go out there and help.”
Since then, nearly half of the detachment’s 87 soldiers have spent at least one day in Obernzenn. The first order of business, Emmanuel said, was cleaning up the town’s only supermarket.
“We took all the shelves out, cleaned the floors, put the shelves back and now food is back on the shelves,” he said. “I see that as a major accomplishment for the city, and that’s something we can see having made a difference.”
The detachment planned to provide manpower and trucks Saturday to help dispose of large items that were destroyed, such as appliances and furniture.
“I have been involved in a lot of missions where we help people in various ways, but this one is very gratifying for me,” Emmanuel said. “I could see that the people really needed help, and you get there and they’re working right next to you. You can see their lives getting back to normal and stress level going down.”
Wolfe and Emmanuel say they are working closely with Heindel and USAG Ansbach’s community liaison, to determine if more assistance will be needed.
“We’re trying to find other ways to help,” Emmanuel said. “I’m pretty sure they need more than what we’re doing right now.”