German Federal Agency for Technical Relief assists in relief efforts

By Army Spc. Peter McCollum and Air Force 2Lt. Nicole Poff


Pumps, personnel and trucks from the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief filled four C-17 Globemasters and three C-5 Galaxies and arrived less than a week ago to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

This team of specialists loaded their mobile pumping units gear into seven U.S. Air Force aircraft September 8 on a mission from Ramstein Air Base to New Orleans.

"The United States government and the German government have an agreement to help each other in times of need," said Claus Bottcher, a representative from the agency. "When we heard about the disaster, our chancellor offered to assist."

And assist they did.

As soon as they hit the ground, the team got to work aiding their American counterparts in ridding the city of New Orleans of the polluted standing water that still remains from the breaking of the levies.

"Our pumps have been designed for this kind of work, and so far there have been no technical problems," said Bottcher. "Millions of gallons of water have been moved already. As water levels decrease, we gain access to buildings in the city and begin moving water out of them."

Amazingly, very few of these dedicated workers receive pay for their job. In addition, they are using all their own equipment.

"We have a total of 94 personnel on this project and 15 pumps," said Bottcher. "Of these personnel, 90 are volunteers and only four are paid employees. We have also brought our own trucks to accommodate the pumps we have brought. This makes the operation easier since our pumps are more compatible with our trucks."

Thanks to all the countries that have and will participate in the rescue, recovery and restoration of the areas affected by this tragedy.