“At the moment, money is not the problem,” he said. “Many of these houses will have to be destroyed.
Maike Haberkorn, 33, went with her husband, Rouven, 46, a nightclub bouncer, to help friends in Heimersheim, a flooded town up the river Ahr.
“The basement is like a dark mud hole,” she said with a shudder. “To be honest, after that, I wouldn’t want to live there anymore. I would always dream of it and never forget it. I would always feel insecure.
Dirk Wershofer, 48, covered in mud, came to clean his parents’ house. Her mother is 79 years old and her father 84, who has Parkinson’s disease. They were trapped in an upstairs bedroom, he said, and it took nearly 24 hours before his sister could come by to rescue them.
Looking down the devastated street, he said: “It looks more like the result of a war.”
With the elections in September, Mr Wershofer is sure that these floods will have an impact. “Right now people are working, washing, sleeping, working and sleeping and reworking. They don’t think about the government. But in a week, they will be very angry.
Floods in Western Europe
Further upstream, in Altenahr, a pretty tourist town, the destruction is deep. The Ahr circles the city, and so the flood hit from two directions, demolishing almost everything in its path.
Buildings like the pub and the guest house, Zum Schwarzen Kreuz, which bears a reference to “the guest house on the bridge, 1640”, are so completely ruined that they will likely have to be demolished.