Flood-affected western Germany slowly returning to normal

By: MRT Desk

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The strong floods of a year ago affected the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meets this Thursday (07.14.2022) with those affected, first responders, and municipal politicians from the communities of Altenahr and Dernau, accompanied by the head of government of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer.

Then, the head of state will travel to Euskirchen, in North Rhine-Westphalia, to participate in a mass in honor of the victims.

For his part, Chancellor Olaf Scholz will attend the central ceremony tonight in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, although he is not expected to speak during it. The city’s Kurpark, where the ceremony will take place, can accommodate up to 2,000 people.

According to the regional government, the memory of the victims will be associated with a “visible signal for cohesion and a common solution.” The ceremony, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. local time, will be broadcast live on public television and via streaming on the Internet.

In the German municipality of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, hit by floods in July 2021, the mayor is as tired and worried as his constituents. “We live in a situation just as dangerous as it was a year ago,” he says.

With 18,000 inhabitants affected, that is, more than half of the population, this city famous for its thermal baths paid a heavy price for the deadly storms that hit part of western Germany on the night of July 14-15, 2021.

Mayor Guido Orthen will be able to show you the streets that were cleared of the mountains of sediment and debris carried by the waters that flooded his municipality a year ago.

But the return to normalcy “will still take time,” Orthen told reporters. “We still have temporary infrastructure, temporary nurseries, temporary schools, temporary roads,” he explained.

Nor are any of the 18 bridges over the Ahr still unusable. Three walkways temporarily replace them.

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