On Wednesday, Germany’s Cabinet approved a package of 400 million euros ($472 million) for immediate flood relief. It also promised to quickly begin rebuilding the affected areas. This task is likely to cost well into the billions.
Olaf Scholz, Finance Minister, said that the package was funded half by the federal government of Chancellor Angela Merkel and half by the state governments of Germany to assist people in the immediate aftermath last week’s floods. If more money is required, the amount would be increased.
Scholz stated, “We will do everything necessary to help everybody as quickly as we can.”
At least 171 people were killed in Germany, well over half of them in Ahrweiler county, near Bonn. After persistent downpours, small rivers quickly grew into torrential floods. The death toll for both Belgium and neighboring Belgium is now at 202.
Also, homes, businesses, and infrastructure were severely damaged or destroyed by the deluges. The authorities in the affected states determine who and how much aid is given, but Scholz stated that they are not responsible for this information.
He said, “It is necessary to quickly send a message that there is a bright future, and that we are working together to make it happen, that this is something for all of us to do as a country.”
Heiko Lemke stated that his family was not insured for the flood damage to their Sinzig duplex home by the Ahr River.
Nobody has yet to tell the Lemkes how to apply for government assistance.
As helpers removed mud-caked debris from her house, she said, “And at this moment I really don’t have the time to look for that.”
Recent floods in Germany, particularly in the east, have caused extensive damage. These floods caused severe and expensive damage. The death tolls from last week’s floods were especially high, as they were the most severe in recent living memory in the affected areas.
Scholz stated that the total government aid to rebuilding following the 2013 floods was approximately 6 billion euros ($7billion) and that more assistance might be needed in the future.
He stated that there was nothing to be delayed and that he would not hesitate to help rebuild Berlin. “The promise we are making now is that the help with rebuilding can start immediately…so that all necessary infrastructure can be restored, damaged houses, schools, hospitals, and put in place anything that was lost.”
Horst Seehofer, Interior Minister, stated that he hopes to have a rough estimate of the damage by end of month. Federal officials and governors will then meet to discuss the next steps.
Scholz and he indicated that reconstruction aid can be expected regardless of whether they are insured for “elementary damages” such as floods. Many Germans aren’t, but insurance will likely be considered in determining details. Merkel expressed doubts about the necessity of such insurance, arguing that it might lead to prohibitively high premiums. However, other German officials support it.
Seehofer stated that there will need to be a “widening debate about safeguards systems” in the future, given the likelihood of natural disasters becoming more frequent and more devastating.
Scholz agreed, saying: “In terms of what’s happening now, we must help. I’m not cynical or heartless. This is a huge disaster. We have to help. That has to be our first priority, above all other principles.
A representative of German insurance companies stated that it expected insured damage to reach 4 billion to $5 billion ($4.7 billion to 5.9 billion) in two German states that sustained the most severe damage.
According to Joerg Asmussen, chief executive of German Insurance Association, the damage will probably exceed that of 4.65 billion euros from flooding in 2002 which submerged Dresden and other eastern German regions. He said that this makes last week’s storm “one of most destructive of recent history.”
Last week’s floods also affected the south Netherlands, in the province Limburg. However, there were no injuries. Daan Prevoo (the mayor of Valkenburg) said that 700 homes were badly damaged and their owners would need temporary accommodation while they are being repaired.
He estimated that the damage to Valkenburg’s homes and businesses would cost around 400 million euros ($472 millions).