August 4, 2021

In Germany, Berlin decides on first financial aid for flood victims

The government of Angela Merkel will release, Wednesday, July 21, a first emergency aid of several hundred million euros to relieve the victims of the deadly floods in western Germany, where reconstruction promises to be long and expensive.

The floods, the biggest natural disaster in decades in Germany, caused the death of 169 people in the country, according to a final point on Tuesday. In Belgium, 31 people died, bringing the provisional toll of bad weather to 200 victims.

In a project to be adopted by the Council of Ministers, Berlin and the regions, competent in matters of civil protection, undertake to pay in equal parts a sum of 400 million euros in immediate aid, according to a document that has leaked in several German media.

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“Without bureaucracy”

It is a question of dealing with the most urgent, such as securing damaged buildings and infrastructure in the regions most affected by floods, some deprived of drinking water and electricity.

Visiting on Tuesday in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the medieval city of Bad Münstereifel devastated by torrential rains, Angela Merkel promised rapid help, “In the coming days”, and “Without bureaucracy”.

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The Chancellor, who had already visited another martyred municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate on Sunday, expressed her emotion at the damage “Appalling” caused by floods: “The city is being hit so hard that it leaves you speechless. “

These sums are a very first step. They will be completed 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. He is to hold a press conference at 9 am to detail the project, together with the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer.

Call on the European Solidarity Fund

Berlin also plans to call on the European Solidarity Fund which financially supports 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.

The rehabilitation of cities and infrastructure will be “A long-term job”, recognized the Chancellor 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 spoken to him about “Months, even years” before erasing the wounds of the drama.

“I am formally homeless and unemployed”, summarized to Agence France-Presse a disaster victim, Carina Dewald, owner of a service station adjacent to her home, both seriously damaged in the village of Dernau (Rhineland-Palatinate).

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20 bridges destroyed out of 35

Seven days after the incident, it is still too early to establish an accurate assessment of the damage, said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. “In the Ahr Valley, we have 20 out of 35 bridges that are destroyed. This suggests the enormous task that awaits us ”, he said in an interview with the local newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

The state-owned 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 km of tracks have been destroyed.

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.

Reportage : “We lost everything. But at least we have life left ”: Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, ravaged by floods

The World with AFP