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Fainting and tears in the Ahr Valley

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Altenburg/Insul/Schuld (dpa) – Eight months after the flood disaster, Bernd Gasper from Altenburg an der Ahr still does not know where he may one day return. Manuela Göken is tormented by a “bad nostalgia” for her life before the flash flood in Insul. And showman Tim Himmes is indebted for a mountain of repair and maintenance work despite tireless work.

Spring is already felt in the Ahr valley. For many, however, the spirit of optimism has given way to frustration and helplessness. “We have no strength left,” says Göken, wiping tears from his eyes.

“Angela Merkel stood here, spoke to me and told me she didn’t want to rebuild it,” says Bernd Gasper, pointing to the spot near the Ahr where her parents’ house stood, which had been demolished. Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) and former Environment Minister Anne Spiegel (Greens) were also there in September. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We will not forget you”-and she again and again talked about quick help and without bureaucracy.

1020 applications are with the Bank of Investments and Structures

But the 69-year-old man, who lost everything in the bodies of water and lives with his wife in temporary accommodation near Bonn, still does not know even approximately how much money he received from the aid fund of some 15 billion euros for the Rhineland. -Palatinate. federal and state governments. According to his own statements, the Responsible Structures and Investments Bank (ISB) has so far approved nearly 460 applications as part of aid for the reconstruction of destroyed and damaged homes in the Ahr. The ISB still has about 1,020 fully completed applications for building damage after the flood disaster.

Gasper has only heard from the ISB since November 6 that his application is being processed, he says. “If I knew an approximate amount, I could buy a house with my savings,” says Gasper. The wait wears out the 69-year-old man, he feels “condemned to do nothing”. “I don’t know what else to do because there is no progress,” he says through tears.

There are also concerns about his wife: “He just can’t cope with his mother’s death and keeps wondering how she died.” The 90-year-old woman died in her home on the night of the flood, just a few hundred yards from the Gaspers. The house also had to be demolished. The ISB had just received a decision that 80 percent would be refunded if an appraisal of the home’s value was filed prior to the flood disaster. “Where are we supposed to get that from?”

Damaged houses: to demolish or not?

The houses of Gasper’s sons Oliver and Achim, also in Altenburg, were also heavily damaged in the flash flood. While Oliver, who was not insured, is rebuilding, Achim also doesn’t know how things can continue. With his insurance company, with whom he has to coordinate every step, he finds himself involved in a tough legal battle.

An expert witness appointed by his specialist attorney estimated the value of the damaged home at approximately twice the value of the insurance company’s appraiser. One considers demolition necessary due to spilled oil and other contaminants, the other does not.

The Gaspers are also interested in one of nearly 40 pieces of land in a new development area in the higher-lying Kalenborn municipality. But even then there is still no clear perspective. Do flood victims have priority in adjudication? Or richer stakeholders, for example from the Cologne-Bonn area? Or will it be drawn?

Many volunteers are still helping out on the site.

The state of the devastated Ahr Valley is also a problem for Bernd Gasper, who has been rooted in the region for generations and works on a voluntary basis. “The way it looks now, it’s been for a long time,” he says sadly.

According to Göken and Himmes, the reconstruction is taking an agonizingly long time. “You still can’t let the kids out anywhere,” says Göken. Between “all the dirt, dust and garbage” that is still too dangerous and there is no playground in sight.

“People are left alone, they help themselves and each other,” describes life. The volunteers, many of them professionals, still did a great job. In the new neighborhoods of Göken, 400 meters above the Ahr, new pipes were laid free of charge after a water main broke; two plumbers who came from Hamburg repaired the broken heating.

However: “We still need two to three years until we have really arrived at the new house,” says Göken. And every time she arrives in the Insul Valley, she is overwhelmed with “compassion for what is not happening here.”

Göken: No more discounts on building materials

Göken has also not heard from the JIS since November. He initially stated that only 80 percent of his household items were damaged in the flood. But when several pieces of furniture began to mold soon after and had to be replaced, he filed an objection and gave 100 percent. The difference is around 5000 euros.

Göken finds it incomprehensible that many of those who can now only slowly return to their finally dry houses no longer get a discount on building materials. Equipment that is now needed, such as washers and dryers, is also not available.

Tim Himmes is currently repairing a dog figure from his children’s carousel. Fair season is just around the corner. But there is still work to be done: the flood damaged the carousel. There is no substitute for lottery booths and waterborne balls. Then there’s rising fuel prices: The 21-year-old worries if continuing to host the fair is worth it for the family.


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