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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Remembering the floods from 2005

I drove through Brienz this weekend for the first time in a couple of years, and roadworks near the office where I used to work reminded me of the terrible events of August 2005. Three days of unrelenting rain washed a large amount of debris and felled wood into the lakes of the Bernese Oberland, which led to the sluice gates at Interlaken and Thun becoming blocked. The result was that the levels of both Thunersee and Brienzersee rose by a marked amount, causing flooding in shore-side towns and villages through the region.

The worst-hit village was Brienz, where heavy rain washing down from the high adjacent mountains led to a sudden mud-slide through outlying parts of the village. Cars were washed away, houses swamped, and a life was lost in the immediate area of the Glyssibach storm channel. As I was working for the local newspaper company at the time, and one of our offices containing computer equipment was in Brienz, a friend and I were sent to the village to retrieve what we needed to temporarily move to the Interlaken office. As the village was cut off on both sides by large amounts of debris across the road, as a result of the large storm drain channels being overwhelmed, we were forced to resort to use a small motorboat being used as a taxi by a local fisherman.

Even now, six years on, the scars on the landscape caused by the mudslide are still plainly visible.