TV crews were quick to visit the areas in western Europe devastated by flooding in July. As they talked to victims and helpers, the shocking scale of the tragedy became clear to viewers. At least 170 people lost their lives.
The deluge swept away entire communities in Germany. Now, residents are gradually returning to their homes – or what is left of them. After parts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were inundated, subsequent rainfall also left a trail of destruction in Bavaria. Locals have been joined in the clear-up effort by experts and personnel from the police, fire brigade and other emergency services and even the German army – again called in to help out as it has been with the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the Nürburgring motor-racing circuit has been turned into a makeshift aid center. The floods were the worst in living memory. Picturesque villages have been reduced to mud and rubble. Many residents have lost not just their homes and possessions but also friends and family. The cleanup operation has only just begun and is likely to take years to complete. This disaster of record proportions is one that requires state intervention – and the nation as a whole to also reflect on what mistakes have been made, and what preparations can be taken to deal with future catastrophes of this nature.
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