The governor of disaster-hit North Rhine-Westphalia has said that a planned fund to help the worst-affected parts of Germany recover from devastating fatal floods in July will need between €20 and 30 billion.
Speaking on Monday in a special session of the Düsseldorf state parliament, Armin Laschet, leader of the Christian Democratic Union and governor of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that at least €20 billion ($23.5 billion) will be required to address the damage caused by July’s storms.
He stated that the work of the emergency services, and the provision of funds to buy clothes, food, and basic necessities was just the first step, warning: “The real recovery is just beginning.”
Laschet, the conservative CDU/CSU alliance candidate for the German chancellorship in the upcoming elections, said the original estimates for the total damage in North Rhine-Westphalia alone had been €13 billion.
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He said the cost for the neighboring state of Rhineland-Palatinate would be similar or even higher, claiming the federal fund in total would require €20 to €30 billion euros.
“The flood of July 14 and 15 was probably the biggest natural disaster that North Rhine-Westphalia has had since the Federal Republic of Germany came into existence,” said Laschet. “After everything I’ve seen in the last few weeks, I’m still deeply shaken,” he added.
Many critical public services remain out of action, according to Laschet. More than 150 schools were damaged in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, and at least eight were so severely damaged, they are no longer operational. Over 50 pharmacies were damaged, too.
The floods in western Germany last month claimed nearly 200 lives, with at least 141 fatalities in Rhineland-Palatinate alone.
On Friday, German prosecutors announced the opening of an investigation into the authorities’ handling of the deadly floods, suggesting there may be grounds to press charges of “negligent homicide.”
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