Catastrophes bring out extremes. Record rainfall last weekend overran rivers in Germany and Austria, including in Salzburg, where the Salzach River rose 8.5 meters (almost 28 feet). Emergency planning and water control, in part the result of dealing with a flood in 2002, meant the city escaped this time with little damage. I missed the worst of the downpour and high water, away at a family gathering, but not the flooding more generally. The regular train route from Munich to Salzburg closed and overflowing water made a mess in the basement of my apartment building. As I made my way back to Salzburg on a circuitous route through the wet, but still passable part of Bavaria, I encountered travelers who first fought for seats and then shared weather stories. As part of the crowd, my accent did not say Florida, but my hurricane stories did. We call them “natural” disasters for a reason, yet the preparation and governmental as well as civic response play heavily into their impact. By the time I left Salzburg city for a Fulbright gathering today, workers were hosing down the riverbank walls and walks, erasing the traces of this hundred-year flood.