| 17 September 2021, Friday |

Mayors of three flood-hit German towns appeal for more aid

The mayors of three German towns badly hit by last month’s deadly floods are appealing for more help from the state and federal governments, saying the disaster caused billions of euros (dollars) worth of damage.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, the mayors said they had written to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Malu Dreyer. They said they were seeking further financial help and the appointment of a special commissioner to oversee the reconstruction in the Ahr Valley, where at least 138 people were killed.

The mayor of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler said his town estimates the damage to individuals, businesses and public infrastructure to be at least 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion). Guido Orthen said his community needs authorities to dispense with some of the usual regulations and make “unconventional decisions” given the scale of the destruction.

His colleague Andreas Geron, the mayor of nearby Sinzig, said the disaster in the valley would “shape a generation.”

“We will never forget what happened to this region,” he told reporters. Twelve residents of an assisted living facility in Sinzig died in the floods and prosecutors are investigating whether officials failed to provide timely warnings to residents.

Germany’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, pushed back against the idea of naming a special commissioner for reconstruction, telling public broadcaster WDR that this risked increasing bureaucracy. But he said the federal government would provide funding to help state authorities.