Railway tracks lead past the picturesque village in the Eifel, everyone knows everyone – until Wednesday the world was still fine here …
But then the water broke loose! Continuous rain made brooks swell into raging torrents. In Schuld (Rhineland-Palatinate) six houses were completely torn away, rubble and mud were pushed into the streets. In the Ahrweiler district alone, the police report five dead.
In total, at least 59 people died in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. Almost 70 are still missing. More than 100 houses – destroyed.
The flood of death
It has rained continuously since Tuesday – more heavily than it has been for 200 years! In Rhineland-Palatinate, 148 liters per square meter fell yesterday, in NRW even up to 200. State of emergency!
► Families trapped on roofs
Helicopters flew over the villages of the Ahrweiler district (North Rhine-Westphalia) again and again yesterday. 250 rescuers searched the ground for people trapped and missing. More than 18 dead were found.
Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (58, SPD): “The people had saved themselves on the roofs of houses and sometimes spent the night there. We don’t yet know how many were injured. ”Four old people’s homes also had to be evacuated.
► Bundeswehr tanks in action
At around 3:30 a.m., District Administrator Günther Schartz (58, CDU) declared a disaster for his Trier-Saarburg district – and was one of the first.
The place Kordel (2100 inhabitants) was cut off from the outside world. Bundeswehr tried to reach the residents with watercraft.
“The Bundeswehr is on site with around 500 soldiers in six counties,” wrote the Defense Ministry on Twitter. Three clearing armor (two “badgers” and one “buffalo”) are in use.
► People float in the water
Yesterday at noon witnesses reported that three people were floating in the Sauer near Langsur-Metzdorf (Rhineland-Palatinate)! Because of the strong current, no rescue measures could initially be initiated. Ex-THW boss Alfred Brömme (68) in the BILD live interview: “The power of flowing water is often underestimated, it is dangerous from knee height!”
► Dams and weirs threaten to break
In the afternoon, a dam breach at the Steinbachtalsperre near Euskirchen (North Rhine-Westphalia) was feared. Several districts of Rheinbach in the Rhein-Sieg district were evacuated.
Already in the morning the district recorded eight deaths, “more people are being rescued,” it said. Many villages were cut off, the emergency number 112 could not be reached.
The emergency services also feared in Hagen (North Rhine-Westphalia), 120 kilometers away: the Wickede-Echthausen weir on the Ruhr crumbled. That is why the management decided to let the water run off in a controlled manner.
In order not to endanger people, the police evacuated the camping club “Garenfeld Ruhrbogen”. Minutes later the place was waist-deep under water. BILD reporter Alex Talash (29): “The water came in a flash.”
► Died in a fall in the cellar
In Solingen (North Rhine-Westphalia), a pensioner (82) died after falling in his basement. A police spokeswoman: “His head got under water.”
130 people were taken from their flooded homes in the city of blades. “We got people out using turntable ladders, boats and buoys. It was all improvised, ”said a fire department spokesman. Sometimes he and his colleagues worked for more than 30 hours at a time.
Lord Mayor Tim Kurzbach (43, SPD) capitulated: “This level of flooding can no longer be combated. The water is stronger. “
► Roads and bridges closed
“We have land under. The places are under water everywhere, ”says Willi Schlöter from the fire and disaster control in Bitburg-Prüm (Rhineland-Palatinate). “We have an incredible number of road closures, all the bridges over Prüm are closed.”
The water ran in flash floods through the places in the Vulkaneifel. At night, the dam wall threatened to break at the Birsdorf reservoir. “We have never seen the lake overflowing like this in the village,” says resident Joseph Fisch to BILD. Many of his neighbors were taken out of their homes by the fire brigade using ladders.
► Looters on the move
People fight for their lives, for their belongings. Many lose everything – and some show the worst side of their character in this absolute emergency situation: They shamelessly exploit the situation and plunder!
► Roads broken, highways closed
The flood of the century destroyed entire places, roads simply collapsed.
The A1 was completely closed between the Leverkusen and Burscheid intersections, and no cars could drive on the A61 between the Bliesheim intersection and the Meckenheim intersection.
The railway partially stopped the train service yesterday. “15 railway lines and six stations are closed,” says Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (46, CSU) in an interview with BILD.
Yesterday the continuous rain moved to the southwest. According to the German Weather Service, up to 80 liters per square meter went down in the Allgäu. Today the heavy rain is expected to subside in the affected areas.
The cleanup will take months, if not years.