Town ravaged by floods tries to pick up the pieces
DPA/The Local · 1 Jul 2016, 08:35
Published: 01 Jul 2016 08:31 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jul 2016 08:35 GMT+02:00
- At least eleven now dead in 'worst floods for a century' (04 Jun 16)
- Bavaria on edge as hunt for flood victims continues (03 Jun 16)
For years the couple had lovingly restored the house in the centre of the small town on the Austrian border.
In the lower floor they had set up their business, upstairs was the living area.
But a couple of days before the date that everything was supposed to fall into place Anna can see nothing but ruins.
The flood that hit the small Bavarian town on June 1st ripped apart everything she owned, and with it her future and her dreams.
After torrential rain struck the area, and a river broke its banks, floods devastated the town.
Seven people died in the region, while 13 were killed in the whole of southern Germany.
“We renovated that place for two years. Every free minute we had we put into it. And now just as everything was ready, the whole thing has gone down the plug hole,” she says, before adding hopelessly: “We don’t have the strength to build it up again.”
When the flood came Anna was at the graveyard with her husband.
“It was the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death."
On the radio they heard what had happened in Simbach. But they couldn’t get through to their house, let alone save anything.
“Everything was swept away and spewed out across the town.”
The couple are waiting for help from the state now.
“It’ll take a while to regain our strength,” Anna says, looking down the street where restaurants and shops used to stand.
“Our shopping street is a ghost town now,” she observes.
Everywhere you look are piles of rubbish. Builders in protective clothing struggle through the houses and pull the plaster from the walls.
On every street corner are diggers and lorries. All around the whirr of fans can be heard which are supposed to dry out the walls.
Signs hang from some houses which read “No Entrance - Risk of Death”.
Seven houses in the town are in danger of collapsing. Others have already been torn down. Four hundred houses are still uninhabitable or only partly inhabitable.
Authorities have already paid out €11 million in emergency aid.
One of the few good pieces of news is that water and electricity have been reconnected - for the most part.
Thirty houses still don't have running water. Shuttle buses take their owners free of charge to shower at the local swimming pool in the evenings.
“The variety of responses has been huge. Some people have been showing a can-do attitude, others seem lifeless, others still are full of doubts,” says Herbert Wiedemann from the Bavarian Red Cross.
“These are dramatic and highly traumatizing situations.”
“Houses can be rebuilt - minds and souls take longer.”