“We stand by your side”
Joined by state premier Dreyer and local politicians, Federal Chancellor Merkel paid a visit to the communities of Schuld and Adenau on Sunday to gain a first-hand impression of the destruction caused by the severe weather. As Merkel said: “Words can barely express the devastation that has been wrought here.” The Chancellor assured flood victims: “We stand by your side.”
Merkel and Dreyer promised that the federal and regional governments would work hand in hand. Germany was a strong country, they said: “We will stand up to this force of nature – not just in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe but also in the medium and long term”. From as soon as Wednesday, the Federal Government will adopt a rapid assistance programme for those affected. The Federal Chancellor was impressed by the enormous wave of solidarity and support for the affected regions. It was reassuring to see how people were pulling together in this situation, said Merkel.
Looking to the future, Federal Chancellor Merkel emphasised: “There’s no time to lose – we have to accelerate our efforts in the fight against climate change.” A comprehensive analysis was needed of the adjustments to be made in terms of flood protection, agriculture and forestry. The total extent of the environmental damage in Germany spoke for itself, Merkel said on Sunday. With regard to disaster control measures, the Federal Chancellor particularly noted the exemplary collaboration between federal and regional authorities. Nonetheless, there were some situations in which the sheer speed of events left one powerless when confronted with the forces of nature, she added. Merkel praised association leaders and local mayors who had “deployed all the volunteers they could muster on site – they are our country’s true heroes.”
Federal Chancellor briefed by crisis teams
Federal Chancellor Merkel previously held video conferences with the crisis teams in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. During her visit, she was briefed by emergency operatives and representatives of the state ministries on the current situation in the disaster areas and the progress of rescue work.
The Federal Chancellor assured the people affected in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia of the Federal Government's support in both the short and long term. The day before, Merkel promised: “We will not leave you alone at this terrible, challenging time. We promise to help you when it comes to rebuilding, too,” said Merkel.
“Rest assured,” the Federal Chancellor continued, “that all the forces of our nation – at federal, regional and local level – will combine to do everything they can to save lives, avert danger and alleviate hardship, however difficult the situation.”
Other members of the Federal Government also thanked all helpers in the affected areas for their tireless efforts – including members of the police, the authorities, the Federal Armed Forces and rescue services, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and all volunteers.
Emergency services from all over Germany in the flood-hit areas
Helpers from regions all over Germany are currently supporting the rescue services in the towns and districts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia that have been hit by flooding. Numerous federal task forces are also on site around the clock.
The Federal Agency for Technical Relief has deployed 2,500 men and women to support federal state and municipality personnel in securing dams and reservoirs, for example, and some 900 soldiers of the Federal Armed Forces are in action with heavy-duty clearing vehicles, trucks and ambulances. Federal Police efforts to rescue those who are trapped include the use of helicopters.
Steinmeier: “Your fate touches me deeply.”
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed his deep sympathy with those affected. “It is a tragedy that so many have lost their lives. I am stunned by what has happened,” Steinmeier said on Friday. At the same time, he appealed for solidarity “with those whom the flood has deprived of everything.” The Federal President praised the swift aid response and thanked all the emergency services for their efforts.
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