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World Flood-battered Germany prepares billions to rebuild

06:46  21 july  2021
06:46  21 july  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Flood -hit Germany wants EU help to rebuild infrastructure - draft document - Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. BERLIN – German authorities came under increasing fire on Tuesday over the deadly floods that engulfed large parts of the country last week leaving Europe’s richest economy caught flat-footed by a disaster that had been predicted days earlier. As Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to the disaster zone for the second time, there were growing questions about how well prepared local and national authorities were for the floods that swept through defenceless towns and villages last week.

The cost of rebuilding the flooded communities in western Germany will run to billions of euros, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Monday during a visit to the region. The flooding of the Ahr tributary devastated communities in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. With the waters receding, residents are recovering what they can from damaged properties and businesses, and looking to the government for help. "This is an exceptional situation that we can only overcome with hard work here and with a huge national effort," Seehofer said in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler.

a pile of dirt: Cars are covered with wood and rubble in Altenahr in Rhineland-Palatinate state © CHRISTOF STACHE Cars are covered with wood and rubble in Altenahr in Rhineland-Palatinate state

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet will huddle Wednesday to approve a massive relief package to rebuild German regions destroyed in historic flooding and better protect them in future.

A week into the region's worst flooding disaster in living memory, which has killed at least 169 people in Germany and 200 in Europe, the right-left "grand coalition" government will unblock aid for demolished homes, businesses and vital infrastructure.

Angela Merkel standing in front of a window: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said many people were left with just 'the clothes on their backs' © Christof STACHE German Chancellor Angela Merkel said many people were left with just 'the clothes on their backs'

With the damage estimated in the billions of euros, Merkel told reporters on a visit to the badly hit medieval town of Bad Muenstereifel on Tuesday that Berlin would come through to help in the short and long term.

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Rebuilding Germany 's flooded areas will cost billions , Seehofer says. The cost of rebuilding the flooded communities in western Germany will run into the billions of euros, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Monday, as the country's death toll topped more than 160 and the search for some still missing went on, dpa reported. The flooding of the Ahr tributary devastated communities in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where the number of people confirmed to have died has notched up to 117.

The German government plans to quickly rebuild infrastructure damaged by the floods and hopes for support from the European Damage Fund, which would certainly amount to billions of euros, a government document shows. In addition to these funds, the German government plans to seek help from the EU fund to repair the damage caused by the natural disaster. The total cost of rebuilding flooded areas in western Germany will reach several billion euros, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said yesterday during a visit to the victims.

"This was flooding that surpassed our imagination when you see the destruction it wrought," Merkel told reporters after touring what the Bild daily called the "apocalyptic" wreckage of the 17,000-strong community in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

Residents of Ahrweiler, a town in western Germany, are clearing out their homes and assessing the damage after last week's disastrous floods © Christian SCHREDER Residents of Ahrweiler, a town in western Germany, are clearing out their homes and assessing the damage after last week's disastrous floods

She said ministers would clear the way for emergency assistance for citizens who had suffered losses and do everything in their power "so that the money is with people fast".

"I hope it will be a matter of days," she said, noting that she had met local victims "left with nothing but the clothes on their backs".

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks after inspecting damage following heavy flooding of the river Erft in Euskirchen, Germany , on July 20. Photographer: Sascha Steinbach/Pool via Getty Images. Listen to article. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised prompt financial support for rebuilding efforts as she said rebuilding regions hit by flooding will be a long process. Merkel visited devastated regions with Armin Laschet, the state leader poised to succeed her after the September election.

GERMANY is expected to fork out billions of euros to clean up the devastation caused after terrifying floods killed 188. The German Government is also piecing together a 300million euros (£257m) rescue package for the worst-hit areas. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz made the aid announcement shortly after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Speaking with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, he said Germany had no choice but to kickstart a rebuilding programme. This comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited some of the hardest-hit areas in the west of the country and talked to survivors

- 'Months if not years' -

The stopgap aid will be supplemented by a longer-term reconstruction fund financed by the federal government and "solidarity contributions" from all 16 of Germany's regional states, she said. 

Merkel was joined on the visit by NRW premier Armin Laschet, head of her Christian Democratic Union and the frontrunner in the race to succeed her as chancellor after a general election on September 26.

Laschet called for the rescue funds to reach victims "unbureaucratically and as fast as possible", pledging to double Berlin's assistance with a cash injection from his own state budget.

He warned it could take "months if not years to rebuild".

A total of 121 people are now confirmed to have died in the flooding in Rhineland-Palatinate state, with at least 47 victims in NRW and one in Bavaria.

At least 31 people also died in Belgium, and later torrential rain caused havoc in southern Germany and several other neighbouring countries.

Death toll rises to 170 in Germany and Belgium floods

  Death toll rises to 170 in Germany and Belgium floods Hundreds missing or unreachable as several areas remained inaccessible and communication was still down in some places.Some 143 people died in the flooding in Germany’s worst natural disaster in more than half a century. That included about 98 in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police.

A damaged filar of the bridge is seen in an area affected by floods caused by heavy rainfalls, in Sinzig, Germany , July 20, 2021. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay BERLIN, July 20 (Reuters) - The German government aims to rebuild infrastructure damaged by deadly floods in the western part of the country as quickly as

GERMANY is set to request EU funding to help rebuild infrastructure badly damaged by deadly floods in the western part of the country. As the floodwaters continue to recede, the search is still on for survivors of last week’s catastrophe while the government draws up plans to repair damaged buildings and local infrastructure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet is due to discuss proposals to provide £174million in emergency if the country’s 16 federal states agree contribute the same amount.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the chancellor candidate for the Social Democrats, said that Europe's top economy would pass a "billions-strong rebuilding programme" in addition to the direct aid to victims "so that things will quickly start looking up".

"We'll manage it together," he told the daily Rheinische Post. 

"What's crucial for me is that there are consequences from what's happened," including plans to make changes to Germany's disaster prevention systems as well as climate protection measures, he said.

- Climate warning -

Annalena Baerbock, the Greens' flag bearer for the election, called for a more coordinated approach to warning citizens while stressing the country must prepare better for extreme weather events due to global warming.

"Germany has been fortunate for decades in suffering relatively few natural catastrophes," she told Der Spiegel magazine.

"But that's meant that the disaster protection measures haven't been sufficiently developed, although experts have been warning for years about climate-driven extreme weather events." 

Merkel, who is retiring this year after 16 years in power, on Tuesday defended Germany's preparations for deadly disasters, saying even experts had been taken by surprise by the sheer brutal force and speed of last week's rains, which left many stricken towns looking like war zones.

"Now we've got to look at what worked and what didn't work, without forgetting that this was flooding as we haven't seen in a long, long time," she said.

dlc/fec/ach 

German Greens: Preventing climate disasters will be costly .
BERLIN (AP) — The Green party candidate hoping to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany's upcoming election warned Monday that efforts to better prepare the country against climate-related disasters is going to be costly and will require tapping into additional sources of revenue. Annalena Baerbock, whose party is trailing Merkel's center-right Union bloc in recent polls, said the Greens want to invest significantly more in prevention “and that will cost money.”“There's no beating around the bush: protection against floods, rebuilding cities to make them resilient against climate change costs money,” she told reporters in Berlin.

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