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Remember those estimates that it would take three months to pump out New Orleans?

About 10 days ago I was in a hotel in the Dominican Republic, watching Deutsche Welle, the German international television channel. I saw a great story about a team of 89 experts from Germany that had flown over with some 15 high performance pumps to help pump out the city.

Ten days later, I hear that New Orleans is dry. But has there been any mention in the US media of Germany's help?? Any thanks to Germany? None that I have seen.

Deutsche Welle (English version):,1564,1704325,00.html

Here are quotes from two European sources (found through Google):

The German mobile pumps were installed Saturday at Station 19 and already have moved 20 million liters of water out of the flooded city. Their progress could be measured late Sunday by the high-water mark on the brick wall of the station, which was two meters above the surface of the remaining black water.

The pumpers work around the clock in 12-hour shifts -- in the sweltering daytime heat and at night when the only sound other than the forlorn howling of abandoned dogs in the deserted city is the churning of the pump motors and the gurgling of water pouring into the canal. It's tough work hauling the drainage hoses, which weigh as much as 180 kilograms, from place to place as the pumps are moved.

"The heat is a problem for us," Weber said. "We're not really used to this climate."

Most of the pumpers are volunteers who left their jobs for four weeks to help Americans recover from Katrina, the latest in a string of disasters where their expertise has been needed.

The agency, known in German as Technisches Hilfswerk, helped dry areas flooded by the Asian tsunami last year and by heavy rains in the south of France in 2003.

"It's great to be in America and help the people here. It's a great feeling to be here," said Oliver Braun, leader of the team working at Station 19.

The THW mission includes 89 experts in water damage/pumping and infrastructure and a five-person support team from the Cross of St. John; they are joined by five members of the Luxembourg Civil Defense. The group arrived in New Orleans on September 8. The TWH team brought with them 15 high-capacity pumps – 10 which can handle up to 15,000 liters per minute, and 5 which can handle 5,000 liters per minute – and has so far deployed pumps in four locations in the city and in neighboring St. Bernard's Parish.

I realize that President Bush, in common with a lot of Americans, finds it difficult to admit that international aid has been helpful. But how hard is it, really, to stand up and say, "Thank you!" once in a while?

I'll do it myself: "Dankeschön, Deutschland!"

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