Resource for learning how to cope with climate-related disasters

The resort of Engelberg is doing much, if not again the victim of a catastrophic flood in the media or to be the size of a disaster oversubscribe.

Nobody doubts that the beauty of the Alps, the trump card of the Swiss tourism. Nature also has an ugly side, as in 2005 when floods elsewhere Engelberg results.

Nearly two years after the August 2005 storm are still works in progress, the piece of road in the village entrance on the back foot is definitely seen as part of the railway line had been snatched. Switzerland is the second time in six years of extreme weather has been ravaged.

Due to the destruction of the short section of road and rail at the entrance to the village only Engelbergs links with the outside world by land, while more than two weeks was interrupted.
Massive loss of turnover

Engelberg Switzerland was the only source of the flooding was so affected, which also attracted journalists in droves. Around 200 representatives of the helicopter flight, others made the arduous journey on foot of the mountains to reach their history.

The material damage of more than 4000 people whose income is usually directly or indirectly dependent on tourism remains limited. There were mainly flooded the basement and ground floor and the damage was largely covered by insurance.

What did create Engelberg, was the loss of revenue of around 18 million francs in the tourism industry. Many travel companies have their guests not only during the 16 days in which Engelberg isolated environment had changed, but for the rest of the summer and autumn.

"I spent days and weeks, operators have to convince them to return," said Fredy Miller, director of tourism to swissinfo. Media has the impression, Engelberg never be as before, although most a few months after cleaning was complete, so Miller.

Back on the agenda

Stabilized after the floods, the number of tourists in the winter at the normal level, even in summer.

Engelberg still generates about 70% of their income during the ski season, but in recent years, the summer season has become more important.

Engelberg had a few years ago decided to become a resource throughout the year to hotels, shops and mountain railways are now eleven months of operation. This was an important step to attract more visitors from Asia, often outside the main travel season.

The marketing efforts have apparently paid off. According to Miller spent some tourists from India more nights in Engelberg hotels in other destinations in Switzerland, which also applies to cities like Zurich and Geneva.

But most international destination to Engelberg, the harder it is, in the case of a disaster, no matter what level, not the focus of international media standards.

If there should be a next time, Miller would like to have more control over the media. "The objective would be initially very little to say, then more, and then switch to positive communication," he says. "About the road within two weeks will be opened."
Action Plan

Martin Odermatt, a member of the council and head of the Crisis Staff Engelberger, want a situation like last time does not happen again. "We found a lot to do, but it's enough for such an extreme case."

After the floods of August 2005, under the supervision Engelberg Odermatt revised its crisis management and risk analysis conducted in the future of the worst natural disasters such as avalanches, landslides, floods, better equipped to be.

To reduce risks, was the reconstruction of the 2005 storm destroyed roads and railway viaduct strengthened. Engelberg also invested more in other emergency measures and long-term measures.

Thus, in future emergency teams are ready to assist in flood hazard under bridges and other floating and dismantle bedload of watercourses to remove. Therefore, to prevent the rivers and streams are dammed and banks.

In addition, the bank plans to improve construction approved to return to the flooding of the village to prevent, and less in urban areas, flood zones must be created.

Another important element is communication. "You can not react, but time is always good in mind," says Odermatt swissinfo.

"We must ensure that people never before exposed a potentially dangerous situation was safe. Nature has two parts - with this, we must live."

swissinfo, Dale Bechtel in Engelberg
(Transfer of English: Rita Emch)