“We will do everything so that life can get back on its way,” said the Social Democratic minister, while reiterating Merkel’s promise to deliver aid “quickly and without bureaucracy.”
It is about solving the most pressing problems, such as securing damaged buildings and infrastructure in the regions most affected by the floods, as well as helping those who lost everything or are living in precarious conditions, without clean water or electricity.
“If more is needed, we will give more,” promised the minister.
The German federation of insurance companies (GDV) anticipated on Wednesday that the floods will cost them up to 5 billion euros (5.9 billion dollars) in compensation.
“We currently foresee insured losses of between 4 and 5 billion euros,” said Jörg Asmussen, general director of the federation of companies in the sector, in a statement.
The floods on July 14 and 15, the largest natural catastrophe in the country in recent decades, left 172 dead, according to the latest balance released today.
In Belgium, there were 31 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths due to heavy rains in Europe to 201.
In addition to the amount approved today, Berlin is also considering requesting European solidarity funds that provide financial support to the member states of the European Union (EU) in the event of a natural disaster.
This first aid will be complemented by “a program of reconstruction of billions of euros”, declared the minister of Finances, in an interview in the newspaper Rheinische Post, although it judged that it is still early to evaluate the needs.
The Belgian region of Wallonia will spend 2 billion euros on reconstruction due to the floods.
During the 2013 Elbe and Danube floods, which affected eight regional states, the German state approved an aid fund of more than 8 billion euros (9.4 billion dollars).
The current cost could be much higher, acknowledged Scholz, who insisted on the unprecedented nature of the floods. “I remind you of the number of deaths registered so far, it is really dramatic,” he added.
A figure that could rise, said Sabine Lackner, vice president of the German Federal Agency for Technical Emergencies (THW), for the many missing.
“Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will be able to find survivors,” he added.
During her visit on Tuesday to the medieval city of Bad Münstereifel (North Rhine-Westphalia), devastated by torrential rains, Angela Merkel assured that the reconstruction of the damaged cities and infrastructure will be “a long-term job”.
“We will not forget them,” he promised the inhabitants of Bad Münstereifel.
The conservative candidate for the German chancellery, Armin Laschet, spoke of “months, even years” before erasing the aftermath of the drama.
“In the Ahr valley, 20 of the 35 bridges were swept away. This gives an idea of the enormous work that awaits us,” Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said in an interview in the local daily Passauer Neue Presse.
The public rail company spoke of “massive damage” to 80 stations.
In Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, the two states most affected by the floods, more than 600 kilometers of railways are destroyed.