We may be enjoying a heatwave at the moment but the risk of heavy summer rains is always a present one in Copenhagen. In the time we have lived here we have experienced flooding in our apartment buildings twice.
I can’t forget the floods of 2011 when, as you can see from the poor quality photo below, the basement in our apartment building in Frederiksberg was severely flooded when many centimetres of rain fell in just a few hours. The water came up from the drains and sewers and left our basement under about a metre of putrid water. Like many places across the city we were left with a poisonous sludge in our basement and many of our neighbours’ belongings stored in their lock ups were ruined. Once we realised what was happening late in the evening (an example of when being nosey pays off), myself and another neighbour (all the other younger residents where at the Roskilde Festival) pulled out what we could save. The next morning most of the water had subsided and we were left with a big clean up. The sewage that had come up through the drains left a smell that took months to disappear.
There are precautions you can take. If you store your things in basement lock up, invest in plastic storage boxes and shelving to keep the boxes a few feet off the ground.
After 2011 many apartment buildings invested in making sure their basements were as robust against floods as possible. However, the Kommune gives this advice if there is a heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding.
- Keep doors and windows to the basement closed and put weights onto the top of drains.
- Remove flood water as soon as you can.
Tips to take care of yourself
- Do not stay in a basement when the water is rising. It can suddenly go faster than you think.
- Remember the risk of infection – use rubber boots and rubber gloves if you remove the water yourself or when you clean up the basement after flooding.
- Avoid touching your face while you work, do not eat or smoke.
- Take care if you have open wounds.
- Be aware that rats may come up with the sewer water.
Stay off the street is there is flooding, again it can rise very quickly and also drain covers can be dislodged and can be dangerous. Watching this video from 2011 shows the extent of fast flooding. For more advice check out this information.