Volunteers mobilize to help flood victims in Germany | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW
All over Germany, people have been deeply moved by the images and stories of the flood-hit areas of western Germany, and many are doing what they can to help. And it’s not just individuals who donate their homes, donate clothes, blankets and towels, or arrange to buy generators and food – businesses are involved as well. Here is an overview:
Neighbors helped victims clean their homes from debris, like here in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
People who own emergency generators – and who weren’t affected by the flooding themselves – have probably lent them to their neighbors already. Those without technical equipment have simply walked through the flooded areas with bread rolls, cakes or coffee as a pick-me-up for their neighbors. In some places, bakeries even circulate to distribute pastries. Other companies provide charged power banks so people can charge their phones.
People have also organized online help efforts. In a new Facebook group “Hochwasser Hilfe Lohmar 2021” (“Aid to flood victims in Lohmar 2021”), for example, residents of the town of Lohmar, north-east of Bonn, and surrounding towns list the aid they can offer or what they are looking for: tractors with trailers, clothes for adults and children, furniture – or just a helping hand with cleaning the basements.
High capacity shovels, submersible pumps and flood drying equipment are needed in many places – and German chains DYI Obi, Bauhaus, Hornbach and Toom are just the places to supply these much sought after products. But companies are not taking advantage of the situation. Obi, for his part, said those affected by the floods can borrow equipment for free. And people who wish to donate drying equipment or pumps can take them to any Obi store, where they will receive a voucher worth the same as the price of a comparable new device. Obi will take these donations and transfer them to the areas affected by the floods. Other DIY stores are also running major rebate campaigns for those affected by the flooding.
The headquarters of the world-famous candy company outside of Bonn served as a collection point for in-kind donations, with people dropping off children’s clothing, blankets, dog food and toys just at the ‘main entrance. The rush was so great, however, that Haribo was forced to ask people to stop bringing in items after only one day of campaigning. Employees now coordinate the storage and distribution of donations, Haribo said.
Some families have lost their entire homes in the flood or will not be able to return for some time. Those who have not found accommodation with friends or relatives can contact different hotel chains for a room. The Hilton Cologne offers rooms for free, while the HRS Group offers discounted prices for flood victims who need a roof over their heads.
Firefighters, rescue services and other helpers must maintain their strength. That’s why many grocery stores and discount chains donated food, in addition to cash. The Wuppertal firefighters thanked the Kaufland supermarket chain and others for their food and drink donations. “We see a lot of gratitude and cooperation in Wuppertal! It’s great that so many people are helping! City firefighters wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Parents whose basements are flooded or who have lost everything may not have much time to care for their children at this time. In order to “distract the children”, as football coach Jose De Almeida Friessem put it, he offered a free practice session at his Black & White football school in Troisdorf, near Bonn. “Maybe then they will be a little distracted from their parents’ worries,” he said.
Whether locally or through larger foundations, those who wish to help financially can do so through many channels. Aktion Deutschland Hilft, a coalition of several well-known humanitarian organizations, is leading a major fundraising campaign. The initiative shared its donation page in a tweet and said several of its coalition partners were already helping in affected regions.
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