Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier believes that reconstruction in the flood-damaged Ahr Valley will take a long time. On the first anniversary of the deadly flood disaster, he said during a visit to the river valley, also with a view to fully booked experts and craftsmen, that the construction work would still be an issue “for the next few years”.
With a view to the flash flood in mid-July 2021 with at least 134 fatalities and thousands of destroyed houses in the Ahr Valley, Steinmeier added on Thursday in a rebuilt wine bar in the partially destroyed winegrowing village of Altenahr: “Climate change has reached us.”
This was shown again by these days of burning forests and falling groundwater levels. In many regions, after the years 2018 to 2020, there is now a risk of “a fourth summer of drought”. The fight against climate change has not lost its urgency. Work is being done to improve disaster protection and preparedness. With regard to the flood victims, Steinmeier emphasized: “We have not forgotten the people.”
The Federal President was accompanied by the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD). He took more than an hour to talk to those affected, helpers and local politicians in the rebuilt wine bar in Altenahr.
The head of state then wanted to visit a carpenter’s shop and a winery in another flood-damaged Ahr wine-growing community, in Dernau. Both factories were also damaged by the flood. In the afternoon Steinmeier wanted to travel on to Euskirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia to take part in a memorial service for the flood victims there.
After the flash flood in the Ahr Valley caused by extremely heavy rain, it was the Federal President’s third visit to northern Rhineland-Palatinate. On September 1, 2021, he gave a speech at the mourning ceremony at the Nürburgring in the Eifel. He also visited flood areas in the Ahr Valley on October 10th.