Houses ripped open, cars swept away, a landslide that swept away part of the municipality of Erftstadt. In western Germany, the material damage caused by the recent floods, which killed 170 people, according to the latest toll, is colossal. To relieve the victims, Angela Merkel’s government will release substantial first aid on Wednesday. The reconstruction promises to be long and expensive.
In a bill to be adopted by the Council of Ministers, Berlin and the regions, competent in matters of civil protection, undertake to pay equally a sum of 400 million in immediate aid, according to a document that has filtered in several German media. The objective is to secure, as a first step, damaged buildings and infrastructure in the regions most damaged by floods, for some without drinking water and electricity.
Visiting Tuesday in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the medieval city of Bad Münstereifel devastated by the torrential rains, the German Chancellor promised rapid aid, “In the coming days” and “Without bureaucracy”. This first financial assistance is a very first step. These sums will be supplemented by “A reconstruction program in billions of euros, so that we can move forward quickly”, said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in an interview with Rheinische Post.
Video: The difficult cleanup after the floods in Europe and the latest toll: 191 dead (Dailymotion)
Berlin also plans to call on the European solidarity fund, which provides financial support to the member states of the European Union in the event of a natural disaster. In addition, the State is considering the creation of its own fund, also supplied by all the German regions in order to be able to release aid even more quickly in the event of a new disaster. In 2013, during the Elbe and Danube floods in eight regional states, the German state had set up an aid fund of more than 8 billion euros.
The rehabilitation of cities and infrastructure will be “A long-term job“, Acknowledged Angela Merkel on Tuesday. “We won’t forget you anytime soon”, she assured the inhabitants of Bad Münstereifel. The conservative pretender to his succession, Armin Laschet, had told him about “Months, even years” before erasing the wounds of the drama.
Seven days after the incident, it is still too early to establish a precise assessment of the damage, said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. “In the Ahr Valley, we have 20 out of 35 bridges that are destroyed. This gives a glimpse of the enormous task that awaits us ”, he said in an interview with the local newspaper Passauer Neue Presse. For its part, the public railway company reported “Massive damage” in 80 stations. In Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, the two Länder most affected by torrential rains, more than 600 kilometers of tracks have been destroyed.
Insurers expect in any case to pay record damages. The year 2021 is likely to become the most expensive for companies in the sector since 2013, when the damage had reached 9.3 billion euros, estimated Jörg Asmussen, leader of the federation of the sector.
The provisional death toll of 170 could rise further, said Sabine Lackner, vice-president of the German Federal Technical Relief Agency (THW), unsure of finding survivors nearly a week after the floods . “Currently, we are still looking for missing people, for example when clearing roads or pumping cellars”, she told the Editorial network Germany. However, it is unfortunately very likely that we will no longer be able to rescue [personne].» To this German count, are added the 31 people who died in Belgium, showing the provisional balance sheet bad weather in Europe to 201 victims.