Residents of Schuld, Germany narrowly escaped with their lives as this week’s flooding destroyed their homes and neighbourhoods. FRANCE 24 spoke to them about their experiences and the recovery efforts getting underway, so far largely led by volunteers.
Until just a few days ago, Schuld was a small picturesque town in western Germany, nestled in a green valley. But it’s precisely because of its location that it was so devastated by last week’s floods, when a wall of mud carried away homes, leaving many buildings at risk of collapse.
Incredibly, nobody in Schuld died in the flooding, but many residents have lost everything and are still traumatized by what they’ve experienced.
“My children said to me, ‘Don’t cry.’ They were so courageous,” one resident told FRANCE 24. “My daughter said, I know we’re going to die. We’re going to die together.”
“Everything’s gone. Nothing’s left,” she continued. “I say to myself, I should be happy we’re alive… but my children don’t have a home anymore. What will I do now? I don’t know. I don’t.”
A huge cleanup operation is now underway here, largely led by volunteers. Farmers from across the region have come here with their heavy machinery to help clear the debris. Others are carrying mud out from homes, bucket by bucket.
“Everybody in the farming community is happy to come and help with the agricultural equipment,” a farmer told FRANCE 24. “There are people who will drive 100 kilometers to get here just to help. It’s all farmers here.”
It’s impossible to know how long it will take residents of Schuld and other badly affected areas to return to some sense of normality, but it’s already clear that reconstruction is a mammoth task, likely to cost several billion euros.
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