The Rhine Valley in the Vorarlberg
With its 80,000 inhabitants, the Rhine Valley in Austria’s Vorarlberg region is a densely populated area. The current channel of the Rhine is up to 300 metres wide and is designed to cope with at most a 100-year flood event (flow rate of 3100 cubic metres per second). In addition, despite extensive reinforcement measures by the International Rhine Regulation Agency (Austria/Switzerland) on both sides of the river, the risk of dam breaks cannot be ruled out prior to such a 100-year event. The Alpine Rhine has another unpleasant feature: despite the Rhine Valley having the characteristics of a river, its waters can rise at lightning speed.
Little time would be available for decisions involving massive effects (evacuation).
As the planned construction measures to cope with up to a 300-year flood event will take years to complete, a uniform plan for such an event that would however be tailored to individual needs was commissioned to protect the 80,000 residents and the vital structures located in the threatened area.
Official disaster control plan
On behalf of the Federal State of Vorarlberg and the local municipalities, Securplan has drawn up a control plan on the basis of a standardised system designed to cover all eleven municipalities, the district authorities and the Vorarlberg state administration.
The plan includes a full range of measures, from advance warning through to a clearly regulated uniform evacuation decision; the evacuation of vital structures; members of the emergency services; and the evacuation of zones previously defined on the basis of the current threat situation.
The plan also covers the distribution and accommodation of a maximum of 80,000 evacuees from the Vorarlberg region as well as almost 6,000 people from Switzerland. There are also clear concepts for sensitive groups, such as care home residents and those requiring special attention.
Structured information concept for the population
It was clear from the outset that the classic disaster planning and preparation by the authorities would not be sufficient: rapid and consistent cooperation on the part of the population is essential for the successful implementation of appropriate measures in an emergency.
Therefore, in addition to the official disaster control planning, a structured information concept for the population involving specific procedures and far-reaching measures was fully implemented.
Mutual support during evacuation across national borders and large-scale traffic control in cooperation with the police authorities in three countries also forms part of the planning realised.