Receding Water Uncovers 'Surreal' Devastation

Death toll rises in flooding, which has spread from Germany, and many survivors lack drinking water
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2021 12:45 PM CDT
Receding Water Uncovers 'Surreal' Devastation
Residents pause Sunday amid debris in Marienthal, western Germany.   (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)

The waters have begun to recede in parts of Germany after historic rainfall and flooding, providing a clearer look at the extent of the damage. It's a sight that Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday is "surreal, ghostly," while in Schuld, where the Ahr river overflowed and swept away houses. Surveying the damage in Adenau, per CNN, she said, "It is shocking—I can almost say that the German language doesn't have words for the devastation." As crews searched for more victims in cars, flooded homes, and debris in the streets, the death toll reached 185. Hundreds more are missing, and thousands can't go home. Many lack drinking water. People drowned in their basements trying to clear them of water, and on roads that became rivers. The surging water tore facades off houses, per the Washington Post, destroyed bridges, and lifted cars into trees. Thousands of people were rescued from rooftops, many by helicopter. An official with Merkel in Adenau called it "a place of horror and destruction."

The flooding began in western Germany last week, then reached Belgium and the Netherlands. More storms have arrived in Germany, with downpours overnight in Bavaria and Saxony. There's flooding now in Austria and Switzerland. Evacuations have taken place in parts of the southern Netherlands, and much of the region is preparing for more flooding—as are the parts of Germany already hit. Belgium said that the danger has passed in its flooded areas and that their biggest need now is drinking water. In the town of Pepinster, however, officials warn that the ground is unstable and that houses could collapse still, per the AP. Pope Francis prayed for the victims and crews Sunday in his Vatican address. "May the Lord welcome the deceased and comfort the family members," he said. In Germany, Merkel promised survivors that the government will work to "set the world right again in this beautiful region, step by step." (More Germany stories.)

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