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Sandbag volunteers: 'You have to help'

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Sandbag volunteers: 'You have to help'

Germany has been watching in horror as rivers break their banks, flooding towns and cities, prompting evacuation and turning farmland into bogs. Our Germans of the Week are all those who pulled on wellies to help others.

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Farmers in Lödderitz on the banks of the Elbe, used their tractors to deliver sand to volunteers filling sandbags, trying to prevent the village in Saxony-Anhalt from being overwhelmed by the rising waters.

"I am a pensioner, but you have to help - we're practically becoming professionals," said Heinrich Herzog, 75, who was filling some of the estimated 300,000 sandbags needed to shore up the eight kilometres of dykes.

An ice-cream van arrived at the sandbag-filling spot on Wednesday and the driver handed out free treats and drinks to the volunteers, lightening the tense atmosphere.

A battalion of Bundeswehr soldiers were also deployed there, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the civilian volunteers to placed the sandbags in special formation on the dykes.

It was a picture of civil action and cooperation with the authorities in the face of some of the worse flooding on record that was repeated across the country this week.

The Local/DPA/hc

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