Merkel: Germany will spend what it must restore flood harm | World information

BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Friday that the German authorities would provide as much money as was needed to repair the damage caused by the devastating floods in July, and renewed the promise of quick relief when she did returned to the valley worst hit by the disaster.

In the floods of July 14-15, which also died in neighboring Belgium, more than 180 people were killed in Germany and hundreds more were injured. Heavy rains turned small streams into torrential torrents and swept away houses, bridges, and cars. The narrow Ahr valley near Bonn in western Germany was most severely damaged.

The federal government quickly put together an emergency aid package of around 400 million euros (US $ 474 million) for the flood victims. Last month it agreed to provide € 30 billion ($ 36 billion) in longer-term aid to rebuild the affected regions.

Merkel said after her visit to Altenahr on Friday that the seven weeks since her first assessment of the flood damage had brought a lot of progress, but added: “I have great respect for what lies ahead.”

“We have a very, very long way to go,” said the long-time chairman, who will not stand for re-election in the federal election this month.

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When asked whether 30 billion euros would be enough to cover the costs of the reconstruction, Merkel said that if not, “every future federal and state government will say: ‘Then we have to do more.'”

“Nobody has to fear that this will fail because of the money,” she said during a press conference.

According to estimates by a German insurance company, the floods caused insured damage of around 7 billion euros (8.3 billion US dollars). The total damage will be significantly higher because many buildings were not insured against “natural hazards” such as floods.

The governor of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, said that reconstruction aid could be applied for at the beginning of October.

“I understand the impatience, but we’re really working to make it very straightforward for people,” she said.

Altenahr’s mayor Cornelia Weigand said that the reconstruction of the Ahr valley could be tackled as a European “model” for communities near waterways.

“We have to develop concepts for how we can continue to live safely on such rivers in times of climate change,” she said.

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