Traumatised by floods

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Care staff 'traumatised' after care home residents drown in Germany's floods

Twelve disabled care home residents drowned in their care home because of catastropic floods in Germany, prompting the boss of a care home to describe his staff as 'traumatised'.

Catastrophic floods in Germany show houses and streets underwater. Credit: Lina Balciunaite/ Shutterstock

The Lebenshilfe Haus care home is located around 100 metres away from the River Ahr in Sinzig, Germany, a town situated between the Rhine and Ahr rivers, which burst their banks during flash floods in Western Europe.

'Our employees are traumatised'

The residents who had severe learning disabilities, were asleep in the care of a single night watchman, when river waters suddenly rose early on the morning of Thursday 15 July, leaving them trapped and drowning on the first floor of the care home.

A spokesman for Lebenshilfe said the building's ground floor filled up with water rapidly and with such force, residents did not have a chance to escape.

Neighbors heard screaming coming from the care home but emergency workers could only save 24 residents situated on higher floors, three hours later.

“This is terrible. Our employees are traumatised, but they still help as best they can. They are also in the process of looking after the other residents,“ Stefan Möller, the care home's boss, told Bild the German newspaper.

“The residents were not alone. We had a night watch in the neighbouring house. At the request of the fire brigade, the building should have been evacuated.

"But when our employee arrived, he didn’t have enough time as the water arrived too - he couldn’t get out and couldn’t help“.

'No words to describe'

The residents on the upper floors of the building were locked inside for several hours before emergency workers brought them out through the windows of the building and into small boats.

A nearby care home accomodating around 100 residents was evacuated after being flooded on 14 July.

More than 184 people have died in floods across Germany and Belgium with hundreds more missing. Sinzig in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state, is considered one of the worst hit regions in Germany, while Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands also suffered deaths caused by recent flooding.

During a visit to a flood-hit German town, the country's Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the trail of devastation: "I'm tempted to say the German language has no words to describe the destruction that's occurred here."

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Posted on 21st July 2021

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