Local news translated – May 8, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, May 8, 2023

Thunderstorms in Baden-Württemberg – Heavy rain causes flash floods and road closures

Thunderstorms caused numerous flooded roads, route closures and and a fire after a lightning strike in Baden-Württemberg on Sunday. Especially the Zollernalbkreis was strongly affected: After heavy storms, the fire department in Balingen was in action for hours to get flash floods under control.  About 240 emergency personnel were deployed to about 100 operations in Balingen and the region, as reported by the “Schwarzwälder Bote”. Several buildings had to be evacuated and cellars pumped out. Many streets were flooded. The Eyach, a tributary of the Neckar, had overflowed its banks. The fire department commander Florian Rebholz assumes a high property damage.  Several families in Balingen had not been able to leave their houses because the water had washed around the buildings. They had fled to upper floors, partly they had held out there, partly they had been brought out of the buildings with ladders, the fire chief said.  The storm also affected the “garden show” in Balingen, which some 15,000 people had visited over the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, the organizers closed the entrances. According to the fire department, the grounds did not have to be evacuated because visitors had left voluntarily due to the storm. No one was injured. In Esslingen, however, the fire department had to be called out after lightning struck the roof of a residential building and caused a smoldering fire. Nobody was injured. According to a police spokesman, the building suffered damage amounting to 100,000 euros. However, the fire department had quickly extinguished the fire.  The German Weather Service had warned on Sunday of the thunderstorms that would occur from the afternoon into the night. The weather experts had predicted heavy rain with up to 25 liters per square meter – in some cases even up to 60 liters.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 8)

In Stuttgart even fewer children will be able to receive Child care

When the members of the Youth Welfare Committee decided in February 2023 that daycare centers would be able to accept two more children per group in the future, it was hoped that this would result in additional places in the three-digit range. The aim was to cater for as many as possible of the almost 750 four-year-olds who do not yet have a place in a childcare facility in the state capital.  But now it turns out that these expectations are not being met. The mayor in charge, Isabel Fezer, cites as one of the reasons that, according to state regulations, only groups that are fully staffed can take on additional children. And that is not the case in many daycare centers because of the shortage of qualified staff and sick leave.  Normally, for example, a full-day group with children from the age of three has 20 children, who are cared for by 2.3 full-time specialists. However, since December 2022, the state of Baden-Württemberg has allowed a maximum of two additional children to be cared for. The city had made use of this possibility.  It is a mixture of problems finding land, buildings and staff, and at the same time increasing numbers of children, which is also slowing the city down in the kindergarten sector. It is true that the supply rate for three- to six-year-olds is just under 99 percent (and 70 percent for all-day places for eight hours and more). However, the goal of full supply will not be reached by 2025 either, because the number of children is rising rapidly.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 8)

New enjoyment days for Stuttgart’s city festival?

For a long time, nothing was heard about the plans for the new start, which festival makers considered necessary because, they argued, a sponsor had dropped out and the lack of staff was endangering the summer festival. The number of restaurateurs who still wanted to participate had dropped from 28 to 18 last August. Some were disappointed, while others thought that a new city festival would be an opportunity to revitalize the city. There is not much time left. The date at the beginning of August will be kept. The existing summer festival restaurateurs were asked whether they wanted to participate in the new concept and what culinary specialties they could offer. French fries and red meat are not to be part of it. Opened in 1914, the Art Nouveau building with a structure of reinforced concrete girders and a hall spanned by a glass roof is a listed building and a real gem in the city. The aim of the Genusstage is to highlight Stuttgart’s pride and joy. A small cultural program is also planned. Since both the Markthalle and Breuninger are closed on Sundays, the festival will take place “only” from Thursday to Saturday. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 8)

Stuttgart 21 construction – Deutsche Bahn promises remedy to long walks at the Hauptbahnhof (main station)

Complaints about the long distances rail passengers have been forced to walk to or from trains at the main station for some time are having an impact. The railroads have promised a remedy, said state Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) after the latest meeting of the steering committee of Stuttgart 21 partners from the railroads, state, region and city. For example, Deutsche Bahn wants to offer a driving service. Rail Infrastructure Director Berthold Huber once again expressed regret for the disruption to passengers caused by the line closures between Bad Cannstatt and Waiblingen, which were scheduled to begin at short notice on the night of May 13, and asked for apologies. To cushion the greatest hardships, he said, more than 80 buses and 250 bus drivers had been brought in “from all over the country.”  The reason for the work is additional work that has arisen for the construction of the Digital Node Stuttgart. In this pilot project, around 500 kilometers of rail in Stuttgart and the region will be converted to digital safety technology. “Planning and developments for the Digital Node remain tense but manageable,” the meeting document states.  Despite this assessment, Deutsche Bahn maintains that Stuttgart 21 will go into operation in December 2025 and at the currently assumed cost of 9.8 billion euros. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 8)

Böblingen: Going on boat rides until October at the upper lake

Böblingen. Since Easter and until October, the municipal boat rental at the Upper Lake is again open daily in good weather. Under the motto “Unique Experience” the rowing and pedal boats can be rented again. The boat house team takes over the rental on behalf of the city of Böblingen in a proven way. An individual reservation is not possible. Groups and school classes can make reservations at the boathouse on request. From Monday to Friday, the boats can be rented at the restaurant. On weekends and holidays they can be rented directly from the boat keeper on the jetty. Renting the boats costs 5 euros for half an hour, and a maximum of four people per boat are allowed. The minimum age without a parent or guardian is 14 years.  The boats can be rented at the following times: Monday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Curiosities from Fellbach – Man gets on Stadtbahn (streetcar) with horse

“Now even a horse wants to ride.” What happened yesterday Sunday morning in Fellbach (Rems-Murr district) caused great astonishment, and not only for a sreetcar driver of the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB). On a video of the SSB employee, which was uploaded on the popular Instagram channel “stuttgarter.meme” as a so-called story, it can be seen how a man wearing a cowboy hat rides on a horse on the platform towards the entrance door of the streetcar.  Sure enough, he and the horse board to the delight of those in attendance. “Seriously?” one woman asks in the video. “Yes, but the horse is quiet and not harmful” is the streetcar driver’s reply. In another video sent to our editors, the man can be seen trying to position the horse in the barely occupied streetcar in the area of the doors – without success.  Another picture shows the man with the horse leaving at the same stop. But would taking a horse along be allowed at all? An SSB spokeswoman refers to the VVS conditions of carriage and also states, “It is important that no passengers are restricted or inconvenienced and that no damage is caused – which in this specific case also applies to the horse.” The decision as to which animals or objects may be taken along in the end, however, is ultimately always up to the streetcar conductor, the spokeswoman told our editorial team. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 8)