Yesterday, I was one of approx. 65,000 people in Frankfurt to evacuate their homes after a British-made bomb (1.4 tonnes of TNT) was found not far from my flat.
Wednesday 30th August
As my housemate and I scrolled through an online article after hearing the news on Tuesday, I finally accepted that this was happening and it wasn’t just some idiot online trying to have a laugh. We soon realised that we would not be having a lazy Sunday at home and would need to find somewhere else to stay.
So I sent a text: “Hey, how are you? If you’re around, do you fancy taking in an evacuee on Sunday? She cooks :)” In reply, I was invited to sleep over on Saturday night instead of coming on Sunday because the evacuation would begin at 6am. Great. However, given that there are two hospitals full of patients who had to be moved, I guess my situation could have been worse.
Saturday 2nd September
So I arrived at my friend’s with my valuables: a few expensive possessions and my passport (also expensive if you ask me). Although in hindsight, I probably should have brought my medical documents and perhaps my work contract too? Ah well, I was hoping that nothing would actually go wrong as I said “Tschüss!” to my housemate, “hopefully we’ll still have a flat tomorrow!” whilst evacuating the building.
Sunday 3rd September
I woke when everyone should have already left their homes, to hear that, guess what!? The plans weren’t going to plan! We are in Germany people, what is going on!? A serious amount of fog meant the heat-detecting helicopters couldn’t fly over the 1.5km radius from the bomb to ensure that no one was still at home.
The defusing of the bomb was supposed to have started but the police were still doing the flat inspections and there were still a few elderly people who needed to be transported to a safe location. Fair enough.
The bomb defusing had only just began. And after the fog, was further delayed by inconsiderate people resulting in the following:
– 5 were arrested
– 19 homes were forced open
– 26 were removed by police
– 36 people had to provide ID
– 298 received an official warning
Considering a bomb in Munich (2011) actually exploded whilst being defused and killed people, this was hardly the best decision. Also it would have been nice if the above had considered the 65,000 people, including the elderly and children, who were waiting to return home.
As the first of three sections of the bomb was being defused, the news showed footage of what the discovery of a British WW2 bomb means for the public. Some people had missed family events whilst others were taking advantage of the discounted entry to museums and spas, but it was the elderly who got me the most. The disruption to their day is what had been on my mind, but what I hadn’t considered is the social aspects that they would benefit from. A few elderly people on the news said they were enjoying being surrounded by new company and getting to know their neighbours. If they weren’t sitting with a group of evacuees, they’d only be sitting in their apartments alone. However, yesterday also brought back traumatic memories from the war. Hearing their stories of bombs being dropped over them whilst they were hiding in the shelters really exposed the realities of the situation, especially as this still goes on in the world today.
In only 30 minutes, the first section of the bomb had been defused. Woohoo! A bit of relief but still a while to go. By this time I had started to think about who’s job this actually was. Who chooses this as a career? What training do they undergo? Do they have children? I was concerned about my flat, but I couldn’t imagine the worry of having a loved one defusing the bomb.
We were informed that there’d been complications and they were now considering other methods. It was at this point that I started to consider my plans for next week, my job, and the fact that if the bomb exploded, I would literally not have a home in Frankfurt anymore.
They had successfully defused the entire bomb! Literally a relief. I was getting worried about the implications of this potentially going wrong. Although all 65,000 of us could have been home by now if it wasn’t for those who were inconsiderate enough not to follow safety instructions. The hospitalised and elderly people were transported back to their respective places and public transport would start running once this had been completed.
I was finally home after an entire day of having my eyes glued to the news. I joined other residents in Frankfurt as we got the U-Bahn home carrying our rucksacks or small suitcases. I am so grateful to have had somewhere to stay, and it is great to see the Frankfurt community came together, providing shelter and refuge for those who didn’t have friends or family to stay with. Most of all, I could not be more thankful to the people risked their lives to save others.
There are some things in life that you just don’t expect to experience. For me, this was one of them: the largest evacuation in Germany since 1945.