29 July 2021 As the terrible flood devastation in the Ahr Valley remains at the front of our minds, we are republishing this free today.
27 July 2021 Two tales from the heart of the Ahr flood disaster zone: the incredible survival of the Meyer-Näkel sisters and the depressing attempts to disrupt support services.
After several hours of torrential rain on Wednesday 14 July, Maike (on the left in the picture above) and Dörte Näkel, who manage the world-famous Meyer-Näkel wine estate at Dernau, decided to go down to their production and storage facility close to the river to try and salvage some of their stock. As they were in the building the water rose so fast that they could not get out. They decided to spend the night on the upper floor.
As they made their way up, the rising water turned into a torrent and ripped off the doors, taking with it all the wine from the basement. A gas tank was swept into the building and cracked to release its gas into the hall. Maike and Dörte were forced to jump into the rapids of the stream, diving under barrels to get to a window which they smashed to get away from the poisonous gases. They were taken downriver by the forces of the stream, but eventually managed to get hold of the branches of a tree, on top of which they spent the next seven hours before they could be rescued. The tree had been planted there by their great-grandfather many years ago.
Not such good news
The TWH, a civil support organisation controlled by the German federal government and staffed by almost 80,000 volunteers, reports that in a growing number of cases its members involved in the Ahr rescue operation are being subjected to verbal threats and even physical abuse. In a few cases this comes from frustrated and desperate victims of the flood, but in the vast majority the offenders belong to the so-called Querdenker movement and the Prepper scene.
The Querdenker originally started as a protest movement against pandemic-related measures by the government. They claim that their objective is the restoration of civil rights, but their disruptive and sometimes violent actions have attracted surveillance by the Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution). A substantial number of their members are suspected of being associated with right-wing extremist groups.
The Preppers call themselves survivalists, but are mainly involved in the disruption of social, political or economic order. Members of both groups pose as residents and journalists to use the situation for anti-government propaganda by spreading false and misleading information. They have also been actively involved in blockades of emergency routes. Police and military forces confirm hostile actions and the deliberate spreading of misinformation, and advise the public to be cautious about reports which do not come from established mainstream media.
Ways to donate to those who have lost so much
Account holder: AHR A wineregion needs Help for Rebuilding eV
Bank: KSK Ahrweiler
53474 Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
Bank branch number: MALADE51AHR
IBAN: DE94 5775 1310 0000 3395 07
We are big fans of the popular transfer service offered by Wise.com. Their charges are a fraction of those of the big banks and the money is transferred within hours rather than days. Using the information above, we have just made a payment which Wise.com assure us will be in the Ahr account within five hours.
IBAN: DE 21 5109 1500 0000 2045 28