While it is still too early to assess who was responsible for what, it seems certain that the alert was indeed transmitted by the federal government to the Länder in question, but it did not reach the inhabitants. That raises the question of the most effective alarm system, between a digital method, such as an app, or traditional sirens.
However, the main weakness revealed by this crisis has less to do with the country's federal structure or its warning system than with the distribution of its population across the country. The impact of natural hazards ultimately comes down to chance and points of weakness: the bad weather mainly affected the southern part of the Rhine-Ruhr, a vast metropolitan area with a particularly high population density. That inevitably makes it more vulnerable and targeted protection more difficult.
Campaigning in troubled waters
The exceptional nature of these floods echoes the unprecedented heat waves that hit the United States and Canada a few weeks ago - and reminds us that our societies will have to deal with increasingly extreme climatic events in the future. However, it should be pointed out that bad weather has long been present in German political life.