“Why do we have a civil defense alarm?” – This critical question was faced by top civil defense officer in Styria, Harald Eitner, on Friday after the devastating storm. Criticisms not only came from citizens, but aid organizations also questioned the country’s crisis management.
There was an absolute state of emergency in large parts of Styria and other states on Thursday, with a total of five people – including two children – killed in the devastating storm that swept over Austria at the end of the afternoon.
Sirens remained silent
“Shortly before 3 p.m., we saw on our internal weather reports that a huge storm front was opening at the southern state border, which is forecast to move towards Styria. We expected the worst, so we bundled all emergency services together,” says one Red Cross employee in the “Krone” interview. Critical Postscript: “Why Do We Have a Civil Defense Alert?”
Harald Eitner, the country’s top civil defense officer, dismissed the allegations: “None of the 17 weather models that the Central Institute of Geodynamics and Meteorology looked at for us predicted a storm of this magnitude. I can only warn of something if I have reliable information.” have information that justifies the move”. The warning time was only about 20 minutes – that was not enough to warn the population in time.
„Paula“ and „Cyril“ predictable
With the storms “Paula” and “Kyrill”, the situation would have been different: “It was a storm front that could be announced two days in advance because of the huge pressure differences,” reports the head of the country’s disaster management department. And he admits frankly: “Of course there are a number of parameters that one adheres to when going off a civil defense alarm. It is ultimately a matter of feeling.”
New Rail Early Warning System
Due to the predicted increase in storm events, those responsible in Styria are waiting a long time for the introduction of cell broadcast, which can selectively and efficiently warn the population of Styria in the event of a disaster.
This modern technology has long been the standard in other countries, and after several delays it will now be launched in Austria in one to two years: “Then every citizen who is on a mobile network will be warned of the expected catastrophe and in best-case scenario, tips on how to behave are also sent,” says Eitner.
This can be done on a very small scale and selectively. You do not have to register for such a service, the four domestic mobile phone providers would then be legally obliged to provide all customers with the necessary information. “But,” the expert adds, “despite advanced technology, we will not be able to predict all disasters in the future either.”