The Hundred-Year Flood - Wacker Chemie AG


Wir sind WACKER

The Hundred-Year Flood

The day before the flood, Jürgen Schmidt was still confident. Upriver on the Elbe in Dresden, weather forecasters predicted a water-level high of 8.8 meters, which was 60 cm lower than the level during the flood of the century in 2002.

Jürgen Schmidt was personally affected by the 2013 flood.

Schmidt was able to calm his wife who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has difficulties walking. “Nothing will happen here in Nünchritz – we made it through the flood in 2002 with minor losses.” Nevertheless, to play it safe, he moved the living room table and chairs up to the attic and stored a few other pieces of furniture in a friend's garage. He even piled up a few sandbags, “just for peace of mind and to make us feel better, because the water gets through anyway.”

Flood protection measures in Dresden were greatly improved after 2002. This resulted in the Elbe flowing considerably faster in 2013 and water levels not rising quite as high despite the same volume of water. For Nünchritz, however this was not the case because the flood improvement measures were still in the planning phase in June 2013. The old dams flooded, and 300 meters away, the residential area where Jürgen Schmidt lives was under water in just a few hours.

The wastewater treatment plant at the WACKER site in Nünchritz is protected by a floodwall.

It was a minor miracle that to begin with, no water entered the home his family has lived in since December 2001. No, the nightmare followed a few days later when the water began seeping through the cement foundation and climbed up through the walls. It took three weeks for a government assessor to come, and he took no time in ascertaining that the insulation was saturated with river water and the screed ruined; all the flooring had to be removed. Jürgen Schmidt: “The house was unfit to live in and we had start over again with drywalling.”

WACKER Nünchritz gave all employees affected by the flood five days off – including Jürgen Schmidt who, as environmental manager, is responsible for waste disposal. The company also provided those in need with shovels, buckets, cleaning agents and other equipment for the clean-up work. Once again, as Jürgen Schmidt puts it: “WACKER is a godsend for the region.”

WACKER’S RELIEF FUND

In June 2013, there was a disastrous flood in Germany. Unfortunately, WACKER employees in Saxony, Bavaria and Austria were also affected. Many staff members responded by donating over €52,000 to the WACKER RELIEF FUND. Added to the company's donation, the amount came to €156,500. The charitable foundation paid the sum out to 20 flood victims.

The site itself was not affected by the flood. Only the wastewater treatment plant lies in the flood-prone area. However, a few years ago, the company built a solid floodwall. Also, the electrical systems in the pump buildings located on the banks of the Elbe were installed very high up, out of the reach and safe from flood waters.

After the catastrophe, Jürgen Schmidt and his wife moved into a vacation home for almost five months. Friends from his music group in Nünchritz helped him install the new flooring. The 47-year-old joined a citizen's initiative involved in improving flood protection in Nünchritz. Nevertheless, according to current planning, it will take until 2018 or 2019 before the dams are higher and more stable.