Tag: flood victims

Flood Victims Cry Anger Against Government for Lack of Support

Flood Victims Cry Anger Against Government for Lack of Support

Flooded houses


During the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley a year ago, many people lost their livelihoods. Hope was given to them by politicians who promised quick money and unbureaucratic help. But many flood victims are still waiting for support. They are desperate and disappointed. FOCUS Online on cases that make you speechless.

It is now a year since the flood caused severe destruction in the Ahr valley and in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. People died, houses were destroyed, and livelihoods were destroyed. The political leaders, above all the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD), promised the victims “quick and unbureaucratic help”.

The reality is different: Many of those affected are still waiting for money from insurance companies or the state’s own Investment and Structural Bank (ISB), which pays up to 80 percent of the damage if the victims had no insurance for water damage restoration.

When it comes to “quick aid”, flood victim bursts into tears

Flood victim Hildegard Schmitt (name changed by the editors) is exhausted from the conversations with the insurance experts, as she explains to FOCUS Online. For fear that the insurance company might put her at a disadvantage, she does not want to read her real name in this article.

Her house on the Ahr, which she and her husband rented out as a retirement plan, is badly damaged, oil has eaten into the walls. “I don’t know how we’re going to do that. Rapid aid was promised, but now, after a year, we are still there,” she says, bursting into tears. “In half a year, the bank will turn off the money tap to us.”

Woman from the Ahr Valley disappointed by politics: “It wears us down”

Almost every day in recent months, she has driven an hour from her home to the house and worked there. “We don’t get a cent from the insurance company for gutting and drying. The expert claims that volunteers did it,” says the pensioner.

In desperation, she searches for evidence and photos to show that she and her family did these tasks themselves and asks neighbors who can confirm this to the insurance company. “The appraiser once met us at work, but he can’t remember it,” says Hildegard Schmitt sadly. The shell of the house is still under construction. Renting is currently out of the question. “It wears us down,” she says.

Injured party: “The wait is sucking, many get sick”

Jürgen Küchler and Ingo Poppelreuter from Altenburg are also in dispute with their insurance companies. Four months ago, FOCUS Online has already reported on their situation and confronted the insurance companies.

What has happened so far? “Nothing. Standstill,” says Ingo Poppelreuter. “It has gotten worse,” says Jürgen Küchler. The building authority has decided in Jürgen Küchler’s case that his house should be demolished. However, the insurance only pays for the half-timbered part. “I’m frustrated, I have to pay a large part myself, even though I’m insured,” he complains.

Ingo Poppelreuter has now even hired a lawyer because he bites on granite with his insurance. “It’s going slowly. The insurance company says it has a lot to do, no time,” says the caretaker. Since there is oil in the walls of the house, after a year he still does not know whether he has to demolish or renovate.

It annoys him when politicians claim that reconstruction is underway in the Ahr Valley. “Many of those affected may be able to do this faster. But it’s different for me. The wait is slow, and many get sick. If it just went on, that would be good for all of us,” he explains. His insurance company does not comment on the case, as it is an ongoing, legal procedure.

The uncertainty is stressful for many flood victims. At the beginning of May, those affected demonstrated in Mainz above all for faster disbursement of the reconstruction funds.


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State government emphasizes progress in reconstruction

What are politicians doing to speed things up for the people in the Ahr Valley?

Much has already been done, explains the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate on FOCUS-Online request. Parts of the infrastructure have been restored, school operations are running normally, and the Ahr Valley Railway is running again – at least on the commuter section between Remagen and Ahrweiler.

For the individual flood victims, all this only counts to a limited extent. It is important to them to finally get financial help. The uninsured are even more dependent on the support of the state. The state government writes at the request of FOCUS Online:

“Immediately after the disaster, 167 million euros in emergency aid were disbursed. To date, 540 million euros in reconstruction aid have been approved, including 222 million euros for buildings. Overall, more than 90 percent of all fully submitted applications have been approved.”

One year after the flood

According to ISB, applications for damage to buildings have been received so far in 1982. Of these, 1659 applications with a volume of 232.3 million have already been approved. So far, however, only a fifth of this has been paid out, according to the bank. The reason: These are discounts. The flood victims must first submit the invoices of the craftsmen, only then do they receive money from the ISB.

Thorough audits “take more time”

The state government explains this procedure as follows: “Permits in the building section take more time. We are talking about much higher sums than household contents. Flat-rate billing is therefore not possible. Every person concerned who submits the necessary documents receives funding. The purpose of the examination at ISB is to check the merits and amount of the claim and to avoid possible fraud.”

This procedure, which according to the state government is “constantly improving”, is far from “rapid aid”, as was announced shortly after the flood. Flood victims such as Jürgen Küchler and Ingo Poppelreuter, who are insured against natural hazards and therefore do not make use of state aid, must continue to wait. How long, is unclear.