#90: Prepping, gas, fire dept, unicorn
Breaststroke was invented in Berlin
Dear 20 Percent,
It’s summer and you probably just want to drink beer at the lake. Unfortunately, I’ve been reading too much news and it’s making me paranoid. I used to laugh at preppers who stockpiled food, water and medical supplies. But maybe they’re on to something. The current state of Europe doesn’t reassure me. There’s a major war just two countries away. A gas shortage, Russian cyberattacks, or simply chaos due to a lack of essential workers or a debilitating return of Covid-19. Or a combination of the above scenarios. Berlin and Germany just don’t seem as resilient as they did six months ago.
What to do? For some time now — unbeknownst to me — the German government has been recommending keeping 10 days worth of food and water ready. The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, it turns out, has a handy 68-page guide to prepping for different scenarios — it’s even in English. It’s charmingly titled. “Disasters Alarm”. You can download the PDF here. Perhaps not a complete waste of your time. Happy reading!
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The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, July 12
Received booster: 62.7% (62.7% Friday)
New cases in one day: 4,860 (3,501 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,665 (+4 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 504 (511 Friday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 8.6 (9.3 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.8% (4.1% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Warming halls for the winter?
Yesterday, Russia switched off Nordstream 1, the main gas pipeline supplying Russian gas to Germany. For “maintenance” that usually lasts 10 days but leaders are nervous that this could be the beginning of a total cut-off. So politicians are prepping, too. Berlin’s social affairs senator Katja Kipping (Die Linke) said she was considering setting up “warming halls” where needy people affected by a gas shortage could go to warm up next winter. Hard to imagine that this is a thing in Germany in 2022. Berlin’s economy and energy senator Stephan Schwarz (independent) said Berlin is prepared for shortages. A task force has been set up to identify ways of saving energy in government buildings. He called on all Berliners to save gas now. Across the country officials are taking steps like turning down temperatures at public pools. Currently, German gas reserves are 65% full. Schwarz said they need to be 95% full to make it safely through the winter.
Fire department crisis
More calls to emergency services, staff shortages, burned out firefighters. For the first time in 20 years, fire department managers, union reps and government officials met for a crisis meeting as the service often has to go into crisis mode with not enough assets to respond to calls. The fire department doesn’t just put out fires. It also operates ambulances. Officials say part of the problem is calls for non-emergency issues such as insomnia — which they’re required to take seriously, leaving first responders potentially too stretched when people suffered a heart attack or stroke. But Berlin’s population growth as well as poor equipment maintenance also appear to be factors: the number of calls per day rose from 1,280 in 2020 to 1,430 in 2021. Union official Lars Wieg said firefighters were “unbelievably pissed” about the situation and demanded that the Berlin government take action.
Staff shortages at airports are causing a lot of luggage to be get temporarily lost. About 300 suitcases have to be forwarded to BER every day and they’re now piling up there as staff struggle to process the deluge of luggage. This time, BER isn’t to blame apparently. An airport spokesperson told RBB that chaos at major German hubs like Frankfurt and Munich was the main culprit. Seems like the smart thing to do is to limit your luggage to carry-on.
That new Love Parade
An estimated 100,00 people showed up to the new Love Parade Saturday but the unintentional star of Rave the Planet turned out to be a Berlin police officer who got paid to enjoy the music.
Insurance-tech start-up raises tens of millions
Insurance, with its promise of safety and security, is perhaps the most German of industries, so it’s no surprise it’s being disrupted by a unicorn in Berlin. Wefox, a “full-stack” digital insurance firm founded in Berlin in 2015, appears to be going from strength to strength. The start-up presently employs 500 and is reportedly doubling its revenues every year. Now it’s raised a whopping €398 million from investors who seem unfazed by the uncertain economic climate.
With a heat wave predicted for next week, it’s time to cool off with a swim. Berliners have swum in the Spree and lakes for centuries, but the Prussian officer Ernst Heinrich Adolf von Pfuel (who was buddies with Goethe and Heinrich von Kleist) formalised the sport in 1817 when he opened the city’s first military swimming school on the Spree river near where Oberbaumbrücke connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg today. Civilians were also permitted to swim there. Pfuelstraße, a short street on the Kreuzberg side, commemorates the man who is also considered the “inventor” of the breaststroke.