Cologne uses extreme off-road Unimog in floods.
Cologne, Thursday evening. At the DLRG lifeboat headquarters, it is the start of a planning session to prepare for the anticipated flood. In focus: Cologne's Kasselberg district. The team led by Michael Grohe starts to prepare for the driving and ferry services that will soon be needed. The centrepiece of the operation: Unimog, the off-road professional.
The motorised amphibian.
When the access road to Kasselberg is flooded, access by car or bicycle is impossible. The water is too high. But often not sufficiently high to warrant the use of boats. The latter only being used in Kasselberg when the water level is above 9.50 metres. If the water level is lower, the water is not deep enough for boats.
The people of Kasselberg often need the support of a special water taxi. That's when the DLRG comes along with the Unimog. Like an amphibian that is equally happy on land and in water, the extreme off-roading all-rounder comes into its own. And is especially useful thanks to its fording depth of up to 1.2 metres.
Kasselberg hit first.
The floods that hit Cologne in the first week of 2018 exceeded the critical level on Saturday night. As always, the district of Kasselberg in Cologne-Merkenich was hit first. "Over a level of about 8 metres, the Rhine floods the campsite first, then the road in front of the houses of Kasselberg's residents," explains Grohe. The procedure is then always the same: while the residents move temporarily into the upper floors of their houses, the DLRG sets up a mobile rescue station on a nearby hill. The Unimog is directly next to it, at the ready.
Everything went professionally and peacefully.
And that's thanks to the Unimog.
Michael Grohe, Officer-in-charge, DLRG flood control Cologne
Daily business continues thanks to the Unimog all-rounder.
"Everything went professionally and peacefully," Grohe sums up at the end of the flood mission that lasted until the middle of the second week of January. "And that's thanks to the Unimog."
Because whenever it's needed, the robust highly agile all-rounder ensures that the residents of Kasselberg can go about their daily business – despite the floods. The residents, who are used to the floods, can call the dedicated DLRG helpers and ask them to fetch them from their homes. Then three men go out in the offroad specialist and take the residents safely through the waters to dry ground. "With the Unimog we drive right up close to the jetties installed near the houses. One of us always stands on the load area and helps people embark," explains Grohe.
The Unimog load platform provides enough space for a bench so people can make themselves comfortable during the ride. When they have reached dry ground, the people of Kasselberg go to work or carry out their business. When it's time to go home, they go by Unimog again.
Uncompromising readiness up to a fording depth of 1.20 m.
"The postman has also used our water taxi, and once we even delivered the newspapers ourselves," says Grohe. "And your feet always stay dry!" Because where normal vehicles reach their limits when faced with large masses of water, that's when the Unimog comes into its own. The robust offroader can cope with fording depths of up to 1.20 m. All-wheel drive, single tyres, the TireControl plus central tire inflation system and differential locks ensure maximum traction. The Unimog can thus provide maximum safety on offroad missions – and even in flooded areas.