[FOUNTAIN]Lessons from a flooded river

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[FOUNTAIN]Lessons from a flooded river

East Germany is suffering from disastrous floods, said to be the worst in a century.

In the historic city of Dresden, the Elbe River has reached 9.4 meters, far above the previous record of 8.8 meters set in 1845. Considering that the water level is ordinarily two meters, it is easy to see how serious the recent flooding has been. In fact, German media have even referred to the current deluge as "Noah's floods."

Obviously, there is enormous damage. Twenty-one people are dead and more than two dozen are missing. Property damage is in the tens of billions of euros, or tens of trillions of won.

For the past 12 years, Germany has poured hundreds of trillions of won into the former East Germany. With the floods, some people are lamenting that their efforts are in vain. Although Germans are generally stoic, the floods have triggered a deluge of tears as German citizens see their countrymen's houses being demolished.

However, they are not just grieving. Civilians, government offices and the military have banded together to bravely fight this huge natural disaster.

In some cities, they are winning the battle. What is more impressive are the enormous efforts made by volunteers, who have included the young and old, men and women. There have been many young people helping, even primary school children.

They have rushed to places where water levels are expected to rise and piled sandbags along riverbanks throughout the day and night. A young man told a television reporter that he had been stacking sandbags for 30 hours.

Thanks to their efforts, historical cities such as Dessau, Wittenberg and Magdeburg along the Elbe are now safe from further damage. Germans, whose postwar economic success was called "the miracle on the Rhine" have again volunteered to create a "miracle on the Elbe."

For Koreans who have suffered from inundations annually, the floods in Germany and their people's struggle and victory may seem familiar. Throughout history, Koreans have helped each other in difficult times, as if the hardships of others were their own affairs. They have assisted each other financially, in farming during summer, and with weddings and funerals. Helping neighbors in times of need was one of the four virtues in some town rules during the Joseon Dynasty.

Today, flood victims in the lower section of the Nakdong River are desperately waiting for outside aid. There is still time before schools open. Young people should go and help.

The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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