Stories Emerge from Germany’s Worst Flood in 100 Years

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One month ago, Germany experienced the worst floods of the nation’s last century.

100,000 families were impacted. More than 150 people are dead, and more than 100 are still missing.

President of the Bible Seminary Bonn, Heinrich Derksen, has been orchestrating recovery efforts and commented, “The pictures do not do justice to the extent of the devastation.”

Send Relief partners near the Eifel and Voreifel regions—the two areas most effected by flooding—had water damage throughout the bottom floors of their homes but thankfully were not otherwise impacted. Many families in neighboring communities lost most their possessions: family heirlooms, photo albums and sentimentals all washed away in a day.

If a house was not entirely flooded, many experienced damage that is now beyond repair and are seeking shelter with their families. Less than half of these residents have insurance that will cover the cost of temporary housing or rebuilding, so many are also experiencing homelessness for the very first time. Stories are circulating about those who passed away trying to outdrive the floods—at least 14 people were caught by rising waters and lost their lives in an underground garage.

One local church member tried to fetch a water pump to clear his garage of moldy water but was caught in a flash flood on his way out. Just before his car was completely submerged, he squeezed out through a window and was swept away in an undercurrent. After tumbling through the waves coursing down his street, he was able to grasp the limb of a large tree and spent nine hours clinging to the trunk before rescue squads arrived. When asked how he managed to stay composed throughout the night, he responded, “I was surprised at the calm and strength that came to me during that time. I know God was with me and caring for me.”

A phenomenon that particularly caught the attention of our partners has been the overwhelming willingness of the German people to help their neighbors recover from this disaster. In fact, so many volunteers showed up to help with clean-up projects that eventually some had to be turned away—these volunteers wound up developing a bus system that transports other helpers to and from the neighborhoods in dire need of immediate assistance.

With the extreme competence of our partners and local relief agencies in clearing the area of debris, the most pressing need right now remains spiritual encouragement. Most families have either friends or family who lost their lives or homes overnight, and the region’s sense of collective grief is overwhelming. Pray for those most impacted, that they would find peace in the hope of the gospel.

Give now toward recovery efforts for these families.

 

Natalie Sarrett is a staff writer for Send Relief.

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