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In the dark of a business park in Berlin’s Reinickendorf district, about 40 men and women in blue uniforms are standing in two straight lines, awaiting orders. It is 19.00 on a Monday evening and this is where the local branch of the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (Technisches Hilfswerk or THW) meets.

After a short briefing from team leader Sven Wersoly, they head into a large garage where there is a motorboat, five trucks and piles of equipment – wooden planks, cables, bolt-cutters and chainsaws. The workers chatter as they meticulo…

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