Germany, which has been ravaged by floods, is preparing to rebuild with billions of dollars.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday to approve a large relief package aimed at rebuilding and better protecting German districts devastated by unprecedented flooding.
The right-left “grand coalition” government will allow relief for devastated houses, companies, and key infrastructure a week after the region’s worst flooding disaster in living memory, which has killed at least 169 people in Germany and 200 across Europe.
Merkel assured reporters on a visit to the seriously damaged medieval village of Bad Muenstereifel on Tuesday that Berlin would come through to aid in the short and long term, despite the damage being estimated in the billions of euros.
After witnessing the “apocalyptic” devastation of the 17,000-strong hamlet in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Merkel told reporters, “This was flooding that exceeded our imagination when you see the destruction it wrought.”
Ministers, she said, would open the way for immediate help for residents who had incurred losses and would do all possible “to get the money to individuals quickly.”
“I hope it will just take a few days,” she said, adding that she had met local victims who had been left “with nothing except the clothing on their backs.”
She said the emergency aid would be reinforced by a longer-term reconstruction fund funded by the federal government and “solidarity contributions” from all 16 German states.
Merkel was accompanied on the trip by NRW premier Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the frontrunner in the race to succeed her as chancellor following the September 26 federal election.
Laschet demanded that the aid reach victims “unbureaucratically and as quickly as possible,” promising to increase Berlin’s aid with a cash injection from his own state budget.
He cautioned that rebuilding might take “months, if not years.”
A total of 121 persons have been confirmed dead as a result of the flooding in Rhineland-Palatinate, with at least 47 casualties in the state of NRW and one in the state of Bavaria.
In Belgium, at least 31 people perished, while torrential rains later wreaked devastation in southern Germany and several neighboring nations.
In addition to direct relief to victims, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the Social Democrats’ candidate for chancellor, vowed that Europe’s top economy would pass a “billions-strong rebuilding program” so that “things will immediately start looking up.”
He told the daily Rheinische Post, “We’ll manage it together.”
“What matters to me is that there be ramifications from what has occurred,” including plans. Brief News from Washington Newsday.