By Juliane Hein
Flooding is not unusual in Passau, the eastern Bavarian town known as ‘three river city’. The town is located at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers. It’s accustomed to rising water levels. Homeowners keep sandbags on the doorstep of their house at all times. But what happened last Sunday and Monday was unprecedented.It was a scene that the town has not witnessed since the Middle Ages.
The Danube rose to nearly 13 metres (42 feet) on Monday, whereas it usually rises to 4.50 metres at this time of the year. The river Inn reached its peak of nearly 10 metres. The waters have reached the second floor of some buildings and the affected areas have had no electricity and no drinking water for days.In Passau, the water is slowly receding and the true scale of the damage is gradually coming to light just now.
I went to university in Passau and am currently working at the General Secretariat of Caritas Internationalis in Rome. To see the images of the university buildings, the street I used to live in or the little bookshop round the corner has left me gaping. Everything is destroyed because the water came so suddenly no one had time to prepare. The bookshop’s treasured books are ruined.
In the lecture room where I took my last exam, the mud is more than a metre deep. How about my house? Well, I have always been asked what would have happened if the flooding had hit my house, and I usually replied that it would be end of the world. This is exactly how I felt when I saw the news and the newsreader sitting in a boat broadcasting in front of my house.
For locals in Passau it might have actually felt like the end of the world, but I think that even the worst disasters can also show the best in human nature. Hundreds of people are coming to town to try and help clean houses and streets.
But those people also need your help. A young student from the little bar called ‘Innleben’, which he inaugurated last autumn; the Caritas kindergarten, which was completely destroyed; the residential compound of Caritas for house for the homeless is underwater.
For information about Caritas work in Germany and to assist the flood victims got to : www.caritas.de
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Keyword: Hochwasserhilfe 2013
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