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South begins cleanup as waters recede

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South begins cleanup as waters recede
A fuel tank floats in floodwater in Deggendorf on Sunday. Photo: DPA
11:14 CEST+02:00
As northern Germany continued to battle historic flooding on Monday, people in the south of the country were slowly returning to their homes to survey the devastation and start the massive cleanup.

Floodwater levels dropped enough to allow evacuees back into the worst-affected parts of Passau and Deggendorf in the southern state of Bavaria, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

But only residents who could gain access to their houses were allowed to return, wrote the paper, and just for a short time. Authorities in Deggendorf made evacuees return to their emergency accommodation on Sunday before police resealed areas at 9pm to protect against looting, wrote the paper.

Many others were told it was too risky to go home, with dangers lying in wait such as knee-high contaminated water and short-circuiting faulty solar panels which have left some whole buildings live.

“Every house has it's own surprise,” Christian Bernreiter, Deggendorf's District Administrator told the paper.

Some 3,000 displaced people are still waiting to return home in Deggendorf alone and, with more rain forecast for Monday and Tuesday, it could be weeks before the water recedes to the point where the cleanup operation can begin in earnest, the paper warned.

Most affected buildings will have to be completely fumigated and refurbished – floors will have to be ripped up, walls re-plastered and heating systems replaced. The flood damage will cost at least €500 million to repair in Deggendorf and a further €100 million in Passau, according to initial estimates.

In the worst-affected districts, everything is covered in what a Deggendorf town spokesman described as a “stinking slurry” - a cesspool of water, oil, sewage and flotsam – including the floating carcasses of wild animals, wrote the paper.

Authorities say there is so far no danger of disease, and pointed to the 900 soldiers currently deployed in crisis regions, whose tasks include collecting and safely disposing of animal corpses by boat.

In the city's Fischerdorf district, once home to 800 residents, five car-sized pumps have been deployed to rid the streets of the stinking mixture of water, oil, sewage and wreckage, wrote the regional Deggendorfer Zeitung on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Passau, where 5,000 evacuated residents are waiting to return home, electricity and drinking water have been restored in many places and most streets have now been cleared of debris, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

With more rain forecast to hit the region before Tuesday night, nervous residents and authorities will be keeping a close eye on the water levels of the Danube and other rivers.

The Local/jlb

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