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A year later, German flood victims remember the changed life of one night

#year #German #flood #victims #remember #changed #life #night

Almost a year ago, heavy rain turned the Ahr, a tributary of the Rhine in western Germany, into a torrent of water and mud that swept everything away.

For those who survived the deadly flood, life changed dramatically.

Three of them spoke to AFP.

– Solidarity –

“My dog, my phone and some t-shirts.” That was all Anke Barteit, 57, was able to take away as the water rose.

Barteit has been living in a small wooden shack in a makeshift village built for flood victims for a year until they can return to their homes.

Her 30 square meter “Tiny House” stands in a parking lot in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, one of the cities hardest hit by the floods.

Barteit sits on the patio in front of her makeshift home, counting her blessings while looking out over the valley with its forests and lush vineyards.

The floods triggered a wave of solidarity in Germany, she says. Strangers she met on Facebook provided cutlery, linens, towels and other essentials for her new home.

Barteit lives alone with her dog Buddy, who “saved her life” on the night of July 14th.

The Bichon-Maltese woke her up by barking when the water started pouring into her house near the Ahr.

Barteit, who is recovering from lung cancer diagnosed in 2018, is hoping to return to her home in September, a moment she says will feel like a “dream come true”.

– homeless and unemployed –

From her temporary office in a small portable cabin, Carina Dewald takes care of the administration of the only gas station in the village of Dernau.

A year ago, Dewald, her husband, their seven-year-old son and their in-laws spent the night on the roof of their home before being taken to safety.

When AFP met her days after the disaster, Dewald, now 40, described herself as “technically homeless and unemployed.”

The gas station where she worked with her husband was leveled and her house became uninhabitable when the waters of the Ahr rose to the first floor window sills.

Dewald and her husband “quickly made the decision…to get the station up and running again,” backed by an insurance policy of €70,000 ($71,200), she says.

An architect’s drawing of the building that will later be her new office hangs on the wall.

The Dewald family home is still being renovated after a long battle with their insurance company.

Returning to the middle of a flood zone doesn’t worry them, although Dewald hopes the flood warning system will work better if it happens again.

“We don’t think too much,” she laughs.

On July 14, 2021, the Dewalds’ gas station stayed open until 9:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) – less than three hours before torrents of water began to sweep through the city.

– Muddy Wine Bottles –

In the cellars of Peter Kriechel’s winery in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, the barrels are lined up, the steel vats are gleaming and everything is ready for the 2022 harvest.

A tasting room next door is packed with visitors.

A far cry from that time last year when the basement was completely filled with water.

In the Ahr Valley, which is known for the Pinot Noir growing on its steep slopes, the economy is largely based on wine production and the resulting tourism.

After the floods, the region’s winemakers raised €4.5 million by selling 180,000 mud-smeared wine bottles rescued from their cellars.

“It helped us all tremendously,” says Kriechel, who wants to take the idea further by venturing “into the next dimension, the metaverse.”

A selection of leftover bottles numbered 1 to 99 is to be auctioned off – including number 14, the day of the flood.

This special bottle is sold in the form of an NFT, a digital token that can be used to represent ownership of unique items.

Social Tags:
#year #German #flood #victims #remember #changed #life #night

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