“We will not forget you”
On Friday, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel returned to the flood-hit areas in Rhineland-Palatinate. Together with state premier Dreyer she visited the municipality of Altenahr, which was completely flooded in July. Merkel stressed: “The message I would like to convey above all else is that we will not forget this flood.”
Duty to help
Weeks after the disaster, the extent of the damage is still immense. The fact that entire houses had been completely laid waste reflected the sheer force of the River Ahr on the night of the flood, said the Federal Chancellor. Merkel encouraged people to speak out about the terrible things they had experienced, saying: “We have to listen.” Some people were forced to wait on their roofs or in their attics during the night of the flood. The “sheer despair that many endured” was something the rest of us could barely begin to imagine, said Merkel: “This is why we have a duty to help in any way we can.”
Thanks for support
The flooding had barely subsided when a broad and diverse show of solidarity and support poured out for those hit by the disaster – something that is still ongoing. “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those who have taken on responsibility and are providing help and assistance – whether on a voluntary basis or as a member of an organisation such as the fire brigade or the Federal Agency for Technical Relief”, said Merkel. She added that she was impressed by people’s commitment and optimism as well as by their will to get actively involved and move forward despite the pain they had experienced.
“Doing what we can”
Merkel said that talking to those affected had shown the wide range of problems that people now faced. “The autumn is coming, winter is not far off: there are hugely worrying questions people now face about how to get a roof over their head, how the children can get to school, whether a house can be rebuilt or not, when they will receive financial compensation and how things will turn out.” The Federal Chancellor reiterated that federal, state and local governments were working together and doing what they could. She promised that even under a new Federal Government, the flooded areas would not be forgotten.