REICHERTSHOFEN/STUTTGART (dpa-AFX) - The flood situation is coming to a head in some areas of Baden-Württemberg. The situation was particularly critical on Monday morning in the two districts of Rems-Murr and Ostalb. Due to the rising river levels, residential areas close to the river were evacuated in Abtsgmünd (Ostalb district) on Monday morning. The residents were accommodated in emergency shelters. It was initially unclear how many people were affected. Schools there remained closed on Monday as a precautionary measure, according to a spokeswoman for the district administration.

After days of continuous rain, rivers and streams overflowed their banks in many areas of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes. Tens of thousands of helpers are in action. According to the German Weather Service, there may be heavy thunderstorms and heavy rain again at the beginning of the week.

Danube flood levels expected

In Bavaria, the flood information service is far from giving the all-clear: Although the flood waters are slowly receding in many places on the tributaries to the Danube, the flood waters are now increasingly affecting the Danube itself.

According to the current situation report, the highest reporting level four has been reached from Regensburg to Straubing, and in Passau it is expected to reach this level on Monday evening. In Kehlheim, the river is expected to rise to a 20-year flood level during the course of the day.

Regensburg has already declared a state of emergency. The water level at the Eiserne Brücke measuring point reached 5.80 meters in the early hours of the morning, the city announced on Monday. The Bavarian Flood Information Service then reported 5.90 meters at 7.00 a.m. - last Tuesday the average value was still around 2.70 meters. According to the experts' data, exactly 6.82 meters were measured during the last major flood on 4 June 2013.

Several districts and cities in Bavaria had already declared a state of emergency at the weekend.

Two people missing

Two people are currently missing: the emergency services have not yet found a firefighter who went missing in the floods in Offingen, Swabia. The search is continuing, said a police spokesman on Monday morning.

The 22-year-old had been out on a DLRG water rescue boat in the community in the district of Günzburg on Sunday night. The boat, which was manned by five rescue workers, capsized at around 2.50 am due to strong currents. Four members of the rescue team were able to get ashore under their own power and were uninjured.

A woman has also been missing in Schrobenhausen in Upper Bavaria since Sunday. Rescue workers thought she was in a flooded cellar. However, helpers were unable to search for her until Sunday evening due to the dangerous situation. A police spokesperson was initially unable to say on Monday whether she had been found in the meantime.

Pupils stay at home for safety's sake

Some schoolchildren have been allowed to stay at home for the time being. Many schools in particularly affected regions of both federal states have canceled in-person classes for Monday, and daycare centers and special needs centers are also to remain closed. In some cases, emergency childcare will be set up for younger schoolchildren.

Rail traffic in the south: Severely impaired

Due to the storm damage, rail traffic in southern Germany will be severely disrupted on Monday. Deutsche Bahn announced on Monday night: "We advise against traveling to the affected flood areas in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg and recommend postponing non-essential travel. Please also expect very high capacity utilization on the trains that are still running."

Long-distance trains are currently unable to reach Munich from the north and west. Local transport in Bavaria also remains severely affected. For the night, stopover trains have been set up for travelers in Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Munich.

Weather service: Further thunderstorms possible with lots of rain

The German Weather Service (DWD) lifted all existing storm warnings for severe thunderstorms with heavy rain for Germany on Monday night. However, there will still be showers with the potential for heavy rain in some areas, especially in southern Germany, as the DWD announced in the early morning. From midday, areas south of the Danube and in the Bavarian Forest will be particularly affected, and thunderstorms are also possible.

By the evening, the thunderstorms could gradually spread to the south, as far as the High Rhine and the northern foothills of the Alps, it said. In the evening, strong thunderstorms with heavy rain are also possible in the Alps.

The DWD is also expecting thunderstorms with heavy rainfall of between 15 and 25 liters per square meter in a short period of time in eastern Germany from the afternoon. Locally, there may also be thunderstorms with amounts of around 30 liters per square meter.

Chancellor's visit on site

For the second time in a few weeks, Chancellor Scholz (SPD) is traveling to a flood area. He is expected to visit Reichertshofen with Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD). Like so many other towns, the Upper Bavarian market was flooded by masses of water.

Association of Towns and Municipalities: More self-provision for flood protection

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities is calling for a rethink in light of this situation. "Above all, we need more personal responsibility, personal provision and a willingness on the part of society to tackle the problem together and to take action ourselves," its president Uwe Brandl (CSU) told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. "This includes giving up land if this is necessary for flood protection, but also co-financing protective measures or refraining from building in the flood zone."

Gerda Hasselfeldt, President of the German Red Cross (DRK) and CSU politician, also called in the "Augsburger Allgemeine" for more to be invested in disaster protection. "Germany has a lot of catching up to do in this respect," she said. "We therefore need a turnaround, especially when it comes to sustainable and future-oriented funding for civil protection."/cco/DP/jha