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Summer floods cost Germany €29bn, figures show

Flooding in the North Rhine–Westphalian town of Hagen (Klaus Bärwinkel/CC BY 4.0)
The German government has assessed the cost of the July floods at €29bn, making them one of the most destructive natural disasters in the country’s history.

The figures were given in Berlin’s application for financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund, reports German current affairs show, Tagesschau.

They confirmed a prediction made in August by Olaf Scholz, the SPD leader who was then finance minister.

He said the German government has spent €6bn on reconstruction after the 2013 floods. Speaking during a visit to the stricken regions, he added: “The destruction that I have now seen here, if you have all of this in view, then you can already safely say that we will probably need a much larger amount to get the reconstruction done.”

About half of the money will be spent in the Rhineland-Palatinate, primarily on towns in the Ahr valley, and about 40% will be spent in the state of North Rhine–Westphalia. The remainder will be spent in states such as Bavaria and Saxony.

The floods were caused by heavy rainfall in the country’s western and southwestern regions between the 12 and 15 of July. The overall death toll exceeded 180, with some 750 injured.

As well as Germany, Belgium was hit by 27cm of rain in 48 hours, leading to calls for all 200,000 people in the city of Liège to evacuate their homes to avoid a dam collapse. Annelies Verlinden, Belgium’s home affairs minister, described the events as “one of the greatest natural disasters our country has ever known”.

Commenting on the connection with global warming, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, head of climate science at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, said the question was not whether climate change had contributed to the event, but rather “how much”.

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