By Ann-Kathrin Weis and Andi Kranz
AHRWEILER, Germany, July 20 (Reuters) – Red Cross volunteers and emergency services in Germany on Tuesday deployed emergency standpipes and mobile vaccination vans to areas devastated by the floods, attempting to avoid a public health emergency.
The exceptional flooding last week killed more than 160 people and destroyed basic services in the hilly villages of Ahrweiler district, leaving thousands in rubble to their knees and without sewers or clean water.
“We have no water, we have no electricity, we have no gas. The toilet cannot be drawn,” said Ursula Schuch. “Nothing works. You can’t take a shower … I’m almost 80 years old and I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Few have done so, in a prosperous corner of one of the richest countries in the world, and this sense of disbelief has echoed widely among residents and aid workers who come to terms with the chaos caused by the floods. .
If the clean-up does not move forward quickly, more disease will arise in the wake of the flooding, just as many had come to believe the coronavirus pandemic was almost over, with rats coming to feast on the contents thrown out of freezers .
Few recovery workers are able to take the kind of anti-infective precautions that are possible under more orderly circumstances, which is why mobile vaccination plans have arrived in the region.
“Everything was destroyed by the water. But not this damn virus,” said Olav Kullak, head of vaccine coordination in the region.
“And since people now have to work side by side and have no chance of obeying the corona rules, we have to at least try to give them the best protection through vaccination.” (Report by Reuters TV, written by Thomas Escritt; edited by Douglas Busvine and Raissa Kasolowsky)