Catholics mobilize after deadly floods in Germany
The Archbishop of Cologne celebrated mass in one of the cities hardest hit by the devastating floods in western Germany.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki led a service in Erftstadt, a small town of 50,000 people, on July 18.
âWe implore the Lord for his mercy. May God help us and may God help us to help each other, âsaid Cardinal Woelki, who returned from his vacation to reach out to people in his diocese.
The archbishop thanked the rescuers in the disaster area.
More than 150 people died when heavy rains turned minor rivers into devastating torrents in the region. Houses, cars and even sections of highway have been washed away by the floods.
When the water hit Erftstadt, the Catholic Church was among the first responders.
The solidarity we are experiencing is overwhelming. People come from all sides to support us
âThe morning just after the flood, we opened our church to shelter people who could not return home,â a parishioner told DOMRADIO.DE Catholic radio.
About 80 people were evacuated to the church and nearby parish buildings. Several houses have collapsed and more than 50 people are missing in the city. Firefighters, relief organizations and the military are still searching for missing people and securing buildings, bridges and streets.
âThe solidarity we are experiencing is overwhelming. People come from all sides to support us, âa parishioner said on the radio.
Even though in some areas there was no electricity or any means of communication for hours and days, the people remained united.
âWe try to stay in touch by praying,â a pastoral worker told DOMRADIO.DE. âEvery evening at 7 pm, we say the Lord’s Prayer, wherever we are. And we think of those who are suffering.
Across the region, Catholic parishes, monasteries and religious centers have overnight become refuges for evacuated individuals and families.
In response to the disaster, Cardinal Woelki issued emergency aid worth 100,000 euros (US $ 118,000) to help the victims and their families. Fifteen apartments of the diocesan seminary have been made available for people who have lost their accommodation or who cannot return until the cleaning operation is completed.
In the Ahr Valley near Bonn, less than 80 kilometers from Erftstadt, more than 100 people have died in the floods. Thousands of people find themselves homeless.
In Aachen, Bishop Helmut Dieser launched a solidarity fund for families and children affected by floods
âIt is horrible to see the destruction,â said Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier during his visit to Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. âCars are standing or piled up in the gardens. It’s horrible.
In Aachen, Bishop Helmut Dieser launched a solidarity fund for families and children affected by the floods.
Extreme weather conditions like the last torrential rain are unusual in Germany. Most of the towns along the rivers have published separate plans on how to respond to heavy floods. The intensity of recent flooding has exceeded expectations.
And yet, the danger is not over. Reservoir dams in the region have been damaged and are overflowing.