German floods hit Merkel's successor Laschet

The natural disaster in Western Europe will also have political consequences.

Following a visit to the regions of Germany affected by the catastrophic floods in Rhineland-Palatinate, Angela Merkel promised to rebuild infrastructure in the catastrophic survivors as soon as possible. Meanwhile, insurance companies calculate their huge losses in advance when they have to pay money to customers who have suffered huge damage.

Photo: AP

“There are no words in German to denote the destruction caused by a natural disaster,” said Angela Merkel, who visited the disastrous city of Adenau in the district of Ahrweiler. And Malu Dreyer, the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, who accompanied the Chancellor, said it would be a long time before the people of the affected areas could say that they would recognize their homeland again.

So far, the main task of the authorities is to search for people, dozens of whom are considered missing, even though the number of victims in Germany and neighboring countries is approaching 190. However, the time will soon come for material support for survivors but homeless people and property. p>

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“Many people have lost everything they have built during their lives – property, their home, their roof,” said German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who visited Erftstadt. – Only after a few weeks will it be possible to find out what damage needs to be compensated. Many people here have nothing but hope and we must not disappoint them. “

On Wednesday, the German government is going to present an emergency flood program and announce medium-term goals for the restoration of its infrastructure.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz previously announced the provision of emergency financial assistance from the federal government to victims of more than 300 million euros. The first grants for people will arrive in July, according to Deutsche Welle. The authorities will also provide tax relief to the victims of the disaster.

According to the German authorities, the reconstruction of the areas affected by the floods will take a long time. However, he assures the head of the Ministry of Finance that “everything must be ready by the end of the year.”

Devastating floods in West Germany could be one of the most costly natural disasters in the country, Reuters notes.

Until recently, the most expensive natural disasters in Germany over the last two decades were considered to be the August floods of 2002, even on the Odra River – insurance losses amounted to 4.5 billion euros. Also in this assessment is Hurricane “Kirill” in January 2007 (3.4 billion euros) – about 10 people died as a result of an uncontrollable catastrophe in Germany and, for the first time in history, all railways in the country were stopped. The first three will be closed by a series of heavy rains, which in July 2013 caused heavy damage in both northern and southern Germany (EUR 3.1 billion).

The German Association of Insurance Companies GDV will issue the first damage assessment in the coming days. But even now it can be assumed that this could be significantly higher than insurance losses, because only about 45% of buildings were insured against floods and torrential rains. It is estimated that insurance losses can amount to approximately $ 15 billion.

Be that as it may, the insurance industry faces huge costs due to the catastrophic floods. The concerns of insurance companies are understandable, which he will have to be careful about. However, the citizens concerned, who have bought insurance, are also concerned. Theoretically, they should receive compensation for the losses incurred. However, rumors are already circulating among them that insurance companies want to declare force majeure and thus avoid payments. There is therefore a danger that the battle for insurance payments will turn into a long-term process.

The rebuilding of destroyed cities also raises the question for some people: does it make sense to rebuild houses on the banks of rivers, which potentially pose a threat of new floods?

In addition to the economic consequences – and this is also a double-edged sword, as restoration work will be carried out against the background of enormous damage, which could have a positive effect on GDP in the future – a natural disaster in Germany could have political consequences.

It is no coincidence that Angela Merkel, who returned from the United States and visited the affected areas, spoke not only of emergency assistance to local people, but also of the need for a policy that takes nature and climate more into account than before. After all, most experts only call the cause of a flood global warming. And if you consider that the parliamentary elections will take place very soon in Germany, whose favorites many observers have called the Green Party, it is clear that political forces will try to capture their environmental and climate agenda one way or another.

There is also a purely pictorial aspect that German politicians do not forget even in the face of a natural disaster. Gerhard Schroeder, who was lagging behind in the polls before the election, put on his rubber boots and went to the affected areas as soon as the floods hit Germany in 2002 – and it worked in his favor. So now the CDU candidate for German Chancellor, Armin Laschet, who is also the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, immediately appeared on the scene of dramatic events.

If the region is rebuilt quickly and without bureaucracy, Laschet's popularity could benefit from the floods. But so far he has had to face criticism. But he is to blame – during a visit to the ruined city of Erftstadt, where the ruined gravel pit engulfed cars, road fragments and entire buildings, Laschet was seen joking with random passers-by, while German President Steinmeier solemnly addressed the cameras. The Social Democrats immediately called the behavior of the center-right politician “undignified and appalling.” And Armin Lashet had to publicly apologize for his misconduct on his Twitter account.

And the statement on financial assistance to victims made by the Social Democratic candidate, Chancellor for Finance, Olaf Scholz, should also be considered in the context of the forthcoming elections.

And, of course, the Green Party's candidate for German Chancellor Annelena Baerbock, who focuses on environmental issues, has interrupted her holiday to visit the affected area. A flood is a flood and you must not miss a chance to appear before potential voters before the election.

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