In early June 2013, the parts of Bavaria situated along the Danube and the region surrounding the Elbe river in eastern Germany were the scene of a natural disaster. The 100-year flood caused water levels to rise higher than ever recorded before. Sandbags had to be transported to the river banks in order to build barriers to hold back the water.
Some parts of the disaster area were hit particularly hard. In the town of Bitterfeld, for example, the river Mulde surged into two former opencast mining pits that are now lakes. If the dams had broken, the water would have cascaded over the town below with the force of a tsunami. The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief pumped more than 110,000 liters of water back into the river.
In Bernburg, the river Saale swept up against the town's medieval walls, which took a battering from the floods. The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief provided gangplanks for the residents, some of whom had to be evacuated. In nearby Calbe as well, where entire sections of the town (including the monastic island of Gottesgnaden) were cut off from the outside world, helpers were called on to give their all. On Werder island on the river Elbe, entire suburbs had already been completely submerged, while the fire brigade did all it could to get the situation under control.
In Magdeburg there was a risk that the entire electric power transformation substation would be put out of commission by the water. In the event of a power cut, it would not have been possible to pump out cellars or operate Magdeburg's sewage treatment plant. In addition to the helpers from the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief, 2,000 German soldiers were assigned to the relief efforts, and 23,000 people were forced to abandon their homes.
The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief provided rapid and expert assistance in connection with the flooding in order to minimize the risk of personal harm and damage to property.
Daimler aided the rapid relief efforts of the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief with a comprehensive support package:
- Around-the-clock repairs for Mercedes police and fire brigade relief vehicles at workshops
- Provision of replacement vehicles by the sales and service outlets
- A corporate donation of EUR 500,000 for the reconstruction effortsDaimler's employees also volunteered to help where they could, tirelessly hauling sandbags around.
At the end of 2014, Daimler provided three new-generation Unimogs to the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief. The vehicles are off-road capable, have an output of 230 hp and are equipped with Euro VI-compliant engines. In relief operations, Unimogs offer the enormous advantage that they are maneuverable and compact.
Alfred Bromme, President of the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief, received the Unimogs from Wolfgang Bernhard, the Board of Management member responsible for Daimler Trucks & Buses, at the Mercedes-Benz Museum:
In our operations, we have to be able to rely on our vehicles as well as the ability of our workers. Whether it's in impassable terrain, flooded areas or on roads blocked by snow: the Unimog has long been an important part of what we do every day at the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief.
At the handover, Wolfgang Bernhard commented that providing assistance in the event of disasters is a tradition at Daimler as part of its responsibility toward society. Even in other countries, Daimler has provided urgent assistance on many occasions, as it is currently doing with its support for refugees in Syria.
By handing over the Unimogs, Daimler made good on the promise it made during the flooding to provide more resources for disaster relief in Germany.