By departure date the German team had grown to 89 volunteers, with five paid support personnel. They were joined by a five-person team from Luxembourg. All expenses were covered by the Federal Republic of Germany.
Their arrival in New Orleans five days later was timed to coincide with repairs to the levees. The German team was joined by similar emergency pumping teams from The Netherlands and Arkansas, all working under the coordination of Col. Duane Gapinski of the US Army Corps of Engineers. A total of 50 high-performance mobile pumps were deployed, of which the Germans contributed 20.
The scale of the German pumping operation was vast. The equipment alone filled seven military cargo planes: four C-17 Globemasters and three C-5 Galaxies, fully loaded with mobile pumping gear and trucks at Ramstein Air Base.
Florian Weber, a German volunteer interviewed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine, said that he was in no way prepared for the extent of the disaster when he arrived. For him, the worst aspect of the operation was the water itself, harboring hidden bacteria and toxic chemicals.
As for me, observing these disaster relief efforts from the comfort and safety of the high Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it is not the size of the German effort that surprises, nor their exceptional experience and training, nor even the remarkable speed of their deployment. I am truly surprised by the silence with which this help has been greeted in the American media.
Of course, our MSM resources have focused upon the worst of the worst aspects of recovery efforts, and have, so far, failed to give even a simple nod of acknowledgement to the many countries' people who have offered and given aid.
All politics aside, the world is full of truly good people, and that cream rises to the top, whether we see it or not. It's just useful to see it, now and then.
(hat tip: Bill U.)