German rivers begin to recede after flooding
KITZINGEN, Germany — German rivers are slowly pulling back into their banks after weekend floods that inundated houses and businesses.
The Main River swelled to twice its normal width in Kitzingen, home to two U.S. Army bases and a military housing area.
All are on higher ground, far out of harm’s way.
But the floodwaters lapped up over the riverfront promenade and into basements in the old city.
Many local Germans strolled downtown over their long holiday weekend to get a glimpse of the brown waters, which left some cars and a campground half submerged.
The flood also swamped several roads leading out of Kitzingen to nearby villages where many Americans live.
Ann Cantrell, executive officer of the Kitzingen-based 417th Base Support Battalion, said BSB officials scrambled to reroute school buses.
“We called people to tell them not to send their kids to the normal bus stops, or they’d be standing knee-deep in water,” Cantrell said.
In Würzburg, the Army’s Leighton and Faulenberg caserns escaped damage because of their elevations.
But the Main overflowed its banks in the old city, much as it did a few miles upstream in Kitzingen.
The water covered streets in the old harbor district, now home to a modern movie theater complex.
Floodwaters crested at midnight Sunday, according to a meteorologist with the U.S. Air Force Europe’s Operation Weather Squadron, who asked not to be identified.
The B13 highway leading south from Würzburg remained closed on Monday.
German media flocked to Wertheim, a town 20 miles west of Würzburg where a U.S. Army base closed 10 years ago.
The flood-prone city lies at the confluence of the Main and Tauber rivers, and much of its old city was inundated.
In Bad Kissingen, home to an Army housing area 10 miles north of Schweinfurt, a flooded tributary of the Main River caused major damage to the city’s Market Square.
The water ruined a spa and auditorium that had recently reopened after a two-year renovation.
George Ohl, a spokesman for the Schweinfurt-based 280th Base Support Battalion, said the rain damaged only one Army apartment in Bad Kissingen.
A flooded road leading to Schweinfurt’s Conn Barracks reopened Monday, he said.
The weather squadron meteorologist said the high winds and heavy rains were part of a low-pressure system that swept across Belgium, the Netherlands and northern Germany last Thursday and Friday.
Temperature ahead of the front topped 50 degrees; they were 30 to 40 degrees cooler behind the front.
In Pfälzerwald south of Kaiserslautern, wind gusts topped 100 miles per hour.
Cold weather behind the storm has been a blessing, he added, because it will give the flood waters a chance to recede.
The light snow that fell across southern Germany Monday was not expected to cause much trouble.
“The temperatures will stay below freezing this week,” the meteorologist said. “As fast as the flooding developed, it will go away.”