At least 135 pardons have died from the devastating West German floods who have transferred to the real world the climate emergency, a priority issue now in the campaign for the general elections that will mark the farewell to the “Angela Merkel era.”
ALSO READ: A flotilla prepares to leave for Cuba
The German Chancellor is expected on Sunday in the affected region, back on the official trip to the United States where she was surprised by the catastrophe, which forced her to virtual management of the crisis. From there he has been “in continuous contact” with regional authorities and with his government team, government sources have explained.
The two federal states affected are Rhineland Palatinate – where about 90 deaths have already been confirmed – and North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous in the country and which corresponds to the rest of the victims so far notified.
Attention has focused on this latest “Land”, whose prime minister, Armin Laschet, is also the conservative bloc’s candidate to succeed the chancellor.
The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier -social democrat, although he formally suspended his militancy upon assuming office- moved to his state today- and that yesterday, Friday, in an institutional statement, he called for national unity, solidarity and accelerate the fight against the climate crisis.
Today he repeated this message from Erftstadt, one of the districts hardest hit by the storm that has affected that part of the country and neighboring Belgium. Laschet, for his part, insisted that his “Land” has one of the most ambitious environmental programs in the country, in the face of criticism from Greens and environmentalists who accuse him of concessions to energy consortia.
BETWEEN THE DISCOVER AND THE RESCUES
The damage caused by floods of “historical dimensions”, in the words of Laschet, began to be revealed on Thursday, a day that ended with 50 confirmed deaths. It is feared that the bottom line will be even greater, given the enormous destruction caused by the waters and landslides.
In the town of Heinberg, close to the border with the Netherlands, Hundreds of people had to be evacuated last night after breaking a dam containment.
Debris removal work began in other affected populations. We advance between fear of what will emerge under the mountains of earth, destroyed houses and all kinds of belongings, and hope for the weather forecasts, since no more notable rainfall is expected this weekend.
They also work tirelessly to restore basic services. Some 100,000 inhabitants are still without electricity supply, the rail traffic remains seriously affected or cut, in the most critical points, as well as some roads.
The greatest damage has been caused by the overflowing tributaries of the Rhine, the Moselle and other major rivers in the region, unable to absorb the volume of the waters.
The worst hit point is the Ahrweiler district, neighboring the city of Koblenz. It is the Ahr basin, a tributary of the Rhine and one of the high points of these floods.
WAITING FOR THE AID PACKAGE
The Council of Ministers will foreseeably address a special package on the 21st, which includes both direct aid to those affected and the reconstruction of ruined infrastructures in the region.
In this, the Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, a Social Democratic candidate for the Chancellery, as well as Vice Chancellor in Merkel’s grand coalition, plays a more than relevant role.
The Finance Minister has been omnipresent these days in the affected areas and has already stated that resources will not be spared.
So far there is no even rough assessment of the amount of damages. In the 2013 floods, less dramatic but which affected eight of the 16 “Länder” in the country, the Executive approved a special package of 8,000 million euros.
There is general consensus on the need to accelerate the fight against the climate emergency, the priority workhorse and programmatic essence of the Greens, second in voting intention – after Laschet’s conservatives – in the face of the general elections.
Annalena Baerbock, a green candidate for the Chancellery, has also traveled to the flooded regions and recalled from there that her warnings about the climate emergency do not arise, suddenly, due to the imminence of the tragedy.
Laschet, who managed erratically in the worst moments of the pandemic, contrary to Merkel’s cautious line, has before him a new opportunity from his position as leader in the “Land” and “natural” successor to Merkel.
Scholz, for his part, could finally take off in the polls, which so far relegated him to third place, behind the Greens.