The President of the Republic, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz are expected in the Ahr valley, particularly devastated by these historic bad weather, on which a heat wave is expected in the coming days.

Local events, including human chains will also be organized this weekend to commemorate this disaster which has shocked Germany and opened its eyes to its vulnerability and the inefficiency of its warning services.

– A slate of 30 billion euros –

On July 14 and 15, 2021, between 100 and 150 millimeters of rain fell on the west of the country, unprecedented precipitation in Germany since the start of meteorological records. Belgium and the Netherlands are also seriously affected.

In eastern Belgium, the floods left 39 dead and thousands affected. The King of the Belgians Philippe and his wife Queen Mathilde go to the agglomeration of Liège (east) on Thursday for a national tribute to the victims.

Western Germany, in the Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, paid the heaviest price, with 49 and 135 victims respectively. One person died in Bavaria.

Municipalities, bridges, roads, railways, hospitals, homes have been swept away by the foaming waves of rivers that have emerged from their beds. The municipality of Erftstadt-Blessem is practically engulfed by a spectacular landslide.

The scale of the destruction around prosperous metropolises like Bonn, Dortmund, Essen, is a shock.

The assessment, not definitive, of the damage is estimated at more than 30 billion euros. The two regions have more than 85,000 people or households affected and some 10,000 businesses affected.

The heavy rainfall had been announced in advance by the meteorological services, but many residents had not been specifically alerted.

The population “had the impression that it was heavy rain”, their “extent was not communicated” clearly enough, had estimated a German official after the floods.

A judicial investigation has been opened for “negligent homicide” targeting in particular the head of the district of Ahrweiler.

– More frequent episodes –

“We are going to arm ourselves against crises and the climatic consequences”, promised this week the Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, betting on “better cooperation and communication” between government and region to “repair the major failures” of these last years.

To avoid further failures, the German government now intends to use the sending of alerts by a mechanism called “Cell Broadcasting”, broadcasting to phones even if the network is overloaded or disrupted.

Germany also plans to rehabilitate the sirens, many of which had been dismantled in recent years.

These floods have also raised awareness in Europe’s largest economy of the climate peril and the risks caused by the artificialization of the soil.

A month after the floods, an international scientific study based on statistical models had made the link between this disaster and global warming: in the vast flooded area, from Belgium to Switzerland, scientists were able to determine that the maximum quantity precipitation had increased by 3 to 19% due to climate change.

It is also to be expected, according to these researchers, that such heavy rain events will occur much more frequently throughout the region.

“Certain areas should not be reoccupied due to climate change and the acute threat of disasters linked to bad weather and floods”, warns the president of the Federal Office for the protection of populations and aid in the event of disaster. disaster (BBK), Ralph Tiesler.

The return to normal “will still take time”, warns from his side Guido Orthen, mayor of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, a spa town particularly affected. Thousands of affected individuals and businesses, caught in the administrative meanders, have not yet received the promised aid.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, 500 million euros in aid have been paid out of the 15 billion planned. In the neighboring region of North Rhine-Westphalia, 1.6 billion euros of works have been approved out of an envelope of 12.3 billion.