A battle against the forces of nature
In 1962, Hamburg's worst flood disaster swamped more than one-sixth of the city, caused catastrophic damage and claimed more than 200 lives. How could this happen? "It was a chain of unfortunate circumstances - the enormous strength of the wind over the North Sea, the water pressure in the Elbe estuary and a tide window which was unfavourable for Hamburg", explains Ulrich Ferk, hydrologist at the HPA. Even if there is still no hundred percent guarantee of protection from the risks of floods and storm surges today, such a disaster could fortunately no longer occur, because a great deal has been done since then in terms of flood protection. Read our brochure, to find out why Hamburg today is optimally equipped for every storm.
• The Hamburg storm surge warning service WADI continuously evaluates water level and weather data for accurate predictions of floods.
• Dykes, barrages, locks and mobile gates provide protection from the water.
• In the event of a storm surge, the port crisis team (HASTA) takes over all technical and organisational measures in the interests of public safety.
• Warnings via radio, sound trucks, sirens, and other channels inform port enterprises and the general public.
• Evacuation plans help to save those in affected regions.
Dykes keep the city and port safe from flooding during storm surges. But a lot has to be done to make sure the imposing structures permanently withstand the mass of water. Today, four-legged support is also used for this challenging task, as sheep are the best skilled workers in this field. After the great storm surge of 1962, experts discovered that none of the dams where sheep had previously grazed had burst. The reason: the animals keep the grass short and thereby ensure a resilient coverage of vegetation. Furthermore, their feet press the earth down like a roller. Today you can see the sheep in many places in the port area leisurely carrying out their dyke protection. Thank you, dear sheep!