After The Storm….

Western Germany and especially my state of North-Rhine-Westphalia was struck by a really, really heavy storm last night. The worst one in the last two decades, some sources say. I wasn’t too worried when it started around 9 PM last night. I turned off the TV and computer and watched it, quite fascinated, from my window. I got a bit scared after a while when I started to become paranoid about the tree in the backyard. It was swaying alarmingly and did it really always looked so skewed?
The tree was fine. So was my small hometown it seemed, because I didn’t notice a lot (or any to be honest) sirens, firetrucks, police cars going around. On Facebook I heard stories from friends, who live in one of the central cities of our metropolitan area and they reported scary stuff about fallen trees and damages to vehicles and buildings and general mayhem.

When I drove to work this morning I saw the usual aftermath of a summer rainstorm in my small town: streets littered with leaves and twigs and such. Nothing to worry about. That changed once I was on the highway heading into the metro area. There were noticably more fallen or half shattered trees, fallen branches on the side of the road, traffic jams and everything.
It only got worse when I reached the town I work in and saw the damage along the road. So many broken or fallen trees. Lanes or even complete streets closed off due to all the damage. I didn’t pass a lot of damaged cars or buildings, thank God, even though I know there were a lot of those in this city as well as everywhere else in the metro area. There were emergency services working on clearing the streets and keeping them safe everywhere. I’m so grateful for those men and women who have been working for almost 24 hours by now while I’m sitting here at home typing this.

Public transport (trains, subway, buses…) was and still is closed down in most parts of the area due to blocked tracks, damages to infrastructure and such. Some highways are closed as well, partially or competely, because cleanup efforts are still going on.

It’s one thing to see these (or even much worse) natural disasters happen somewhere else. To see the footage on TV or online or in the newspaper. It’s quite another thing to see it with your own eyes right in front of you. A street I drive through at least once a week was blocked by an uprooted tree. A huge part of one tree lying on top of a parked car in a driveway. A traffic lights (or a lamp post?) bent over and scrunched up to something small and unrecognizable by a huge fallen tree. Something tall and sturdy like a traffic light, for heaven’s sake!

Scary stuff! Six people lost their lives last night and quite a lot were injured. It’s such a sad thing to write about and I really hope of all of those injured will pull through. Some more storms are heading our way, hopefully not as severe as last night and maybe they will pass by our metro area. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I took those two photos on my way home. And these were only splintered and broken trees, I’ve seen worse throughout the day… :-(

Events like this really help to put some things into perspective, don’t they? To me at least…

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