Mr Heun, you recently went to the crisis region in the Eifel to provide the people with urgently needed things and to help there.

How did that happen?

Alexander Juergs

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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My oldest son lives there with his wife, in an old half-timbered house in Gilsdorf, a district of Bad Münstereifel.

Both of them were badly hit by the floods.

We were in contact by phone the night the tide came.

My son told me how the water in his house kept rising.

In the end, the first floor was under water up to the door frame.

The two had escaped to the first floor and could watch from there how the water came closer and closer to them.

Anyone who experiences something like this is scared to death.

Then one can only hope and pray.

In the middle of the night the all-clear came: the water is sinking.

When did you go to Gilsdorf then?

The next morning my wife and I drove off, the car full of shovels, brooms and cleaning equipment.

But we didn't get to the place.

Everything was closed, everywhere there were police, fire brigade and THW.

They then told us: You can't do that today.

Then we went back.

The next attempt then succeeded?

Yes, the day after we did it.

My son knew a route that was passable.

Before that, we fully charged our car again.

In the morning we had bought bottles of water in the supermarket that we wanted to distribute.

The local water pipes were still intact, but people had been warned not to drink the water.

What was your first impression when you reached Gilsdorf?

When you get there, that's unimaginable.

This devastation.

It's completely different than when you see it on TV.

But what really touched me on site was how people helped each other and gave each other a helping hand.

When one of them was finished in his house, he went to his neighbor and helped there, that was no question at all.

The police also lent a hand.

But even here with us I felt a strong solidarity.

How do you notice that?

I had spoken to my son on the phone and talked about what is needed in the region. At the moment these are mainly building materials: chipboard and shuttering boards to fill the door holes or to patch up the windows in a makeshift manner. And everything that helps to clean the houses. I went straight to the Maeusel hardware store in Bad Vilbel and asked what they could get there. The owner said to me: I'm talking to your son. He called him and asked him to compile a list of what was needed. He should also ask the neighbors. When my son asked him about the general conditions, he said: Don't worry about the costs. I think that's enormous. Another time I wanted to bring beer table sets and wheelbarrows to the Eifel, but my car is far too small for that.So the vegetable farmer, Weiß vom Riedhof, helped me and lent me his van.

This is a good sign that cohesion in the community works.

However, there is also less good news.

I am concerned that “lateral thinkers” have crept into the crisis regions and are spreading their slogans there.

And disaster tourism also scares me.

People are blocking the streets and the trucks that deliver aid cannot get through.

Or no longer out.

It is also important to move all the rubbish away there quickly so that no vermin and rats nestle up there.

Have people died in the place where your son lives?

Fortunately not.

But it almost got a man.

He would have been swept away from his yard had it not been for someone who grabbed him at the last second and pulled him out of the water.

He now relives this moment of horror all the time.

The psychological strain is great, the tears come quickly.

On the other hand, he's incredibly happy to be alive.

The line between joy and sorrow has become very small.

How long will it take for the region to get back on its feet?

Much help will be needed.

For example: I found out about a woman who lived in her grandmother's house.

During the flood, the entire front of the house was carried away.

The building had to be demolished immediately.

Because of the danger of collapse, she could not go back into the house and has now lost all personal items.

Everything is gone, the woman is left with nothing.

Donations were collected for them and within a very short time they raised 12,000 euros.

But the money is barely enough to pay for the demolition costs.

It will take billions to help people.

Many see the floods as a wake-up call that more must be done to curb climate change.

God said to us: Subdue the earth!

In other words, be careful with her.

I therefore see this catastrophe as a warning from God, a warning to people: We are responsible for the preservation of this earth.

Is there even a chance for a new beginning in the crisis regions?

Or are people now drawn away?

I do not believe that.

My son has now also said: We will stay here, we will rebuild it.

That is something that one now hears from many: This is our home, we will not let it down.