Surprise first, panic later. The water that flooded the city of Mayen in western Germany, caused its inhabitants, still bewildered, they lived an anguished night.
Heavy rains and floods they left at least 67 dead and many disappeared in Europe, the vast majority of them in Germany, in a tragedy that various political leaders blame on climate change.
The most dramatic situation was experienced this Thursday in western Germany, in the regions of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, whose authorities raised the toll of victims to 59 deaths and dozens of injuries.
If this town of about 20,000 inhabitants, embedded between green hills, has not mourned any victims, the torrential rains and floods that hit this German region have left at least 42 dead and dozens missing.
In Schuld, the damage from the floods. Photo EFE
“No one expected this. Where is all this rain coming from? It’s crazy. It made a terrible noise, “Annemarie Müller, who barely slept at night, told AFP.
The rivers overflowing
Heavy rainfall flooded the little river Nette, a tributary of the Rhine that usually passes peacefully through the city with medieval architecture.
“We sat on the balcony and watched the Nette overflow, we couldn’t do anything. As long as no life is in danger, it can be borne, “sighs a 65-year-old pensioner looking at his flooded garden.
The army helps the victims in Germany. Photo EFE
The outlook is bleak: the garages on the street are inaccessible; the water, which has already begun to recede, is still knee-high.
“We had luck”, her neighbor Andrea Schär relates: “The winery is completely flooded and the water rose 4 centimeters from the ground floor. It was fast, in 20 minutes the whole winery was flooded,” explains a 55-year-old woman.
The inhabitants claim they have not seen anything like it. Many are amazed at the speed with which the water rose.
“In 2016, we had already experienced extreme floods, but these have far exceeded them. We were ready and we had structures in place. But you can never be 100% prepared for these kinds of events, “says Uli Walsdorf, Deputy Chief of the Fire Department in Mayen.
Ortrud Meyer, a 36-year-old educator, also you are trying to drain the water from your basement, the most common activity on the streets of Mayen this Thursday.
Resides in this town for 6 years, knows well what a flood zone is and, therefore, did not keep valuables in his basement. “We are aware of the danger, but we have never seen something like this,” he points out. “My stepfather is almost 80 years old, he belongs to Mayen and he had not experienced anything similar either,” he continues.
However, the inhabitants are aware of having escaped from the worstr. Less than 50 kilometers from their homes, the district has paid a heavy price for the storm: 18 dead and many missing.
In the municipality of Schuld, also crossed by a stream, several houses were washed away and several people died. The rains are expected to continue through Friday.