Bonn The City of Bonn is lending a helping hand to the communities affected by the flood disaster and is providing staff to help, as well as vehicles and equipment. Many staff members at the city authorities have themselves been hit hard by the flood wave.
While people in the flooded areas around Bonn are busy with the clean-up operations, the city authorities have organised relief to support neighbouring municipalities who have been affected. According to the municipal press office, numerous employees from various departments at the city authorities have stepped in to work for the people in the disaster areas.
The city is also providing vehicles, special transporters, equipment and machinery, explains Andrea Schulte from the press office. These are coordinated and allocated in line with the requests from the municipalities concerned, which helps to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness and to protect the helpers. Schulte explains that all employees have been instructed in occupational safety and prepared for the state of emergency in the crisis area. For legal reasons, it is not possible to lend municipal vehicles, machines and equipment to persons who have not been instructed and may not be competent. A coordinated deployment of free capacities by the city is more effective, she says.
Flood clean-up works in Bonn too
Especially since there is still a lot of clean-up work to be carried out in Bonn following the flooding. For example, streams and ditches need to be cleared to prevent more flooding in the event of further rainfall. “In addition, a municipality has mandatory tasks that cannot be postponed and for which equipment is needed - these include, for example, carrying out burials or ensuring traffic safety by children's playgrounds.”
Schulte explains that the City of Bonn set up a call centre last Thursday afternoon to provide short-term accommodation for people who were without shelter as a result of the severe weather. More than 2,000 offers of accommodation have been received so far, and 357 lodgings have been successfully allocated to those affected. As emergency relief, Schulte said, various departments have also provided fuel canisters and hygiene items, such as masks and disinfectant, and transported these to the crisis area. Since Wednesday, municipal employees have been providing support with container vehicles for waste disposal at collection points. Staff from the Bonn Civil Engineering Office have put the defective Altenahr sewage treatment plant into emergency operation using high-performance vacuum pumps, and various sewer cleaning and sludge suction vehicles are in use in Rheinbach, Altenahr and Ahrbrück.
Environmental authority analysis
Experts from the Lower Environmental Authority are analysing the situation in the affected areas with regards to problematic waste. Municipal building inspectors are providing official assistance in assessing the buildings in Swisttal. Staff from the sewer depot have driven vehicles to the sewage treatment plants in Altenahr-Ahrbrück and Kesseling. The Bonn city fire brigade has been working in the crisis area since the very beginning. The command service is in permanent contact with the operations management in Ahrweiler, Rhein-Sieg-Kreis and Euskirchen.
For people temporarily accommodated in Bonn, the city authorities are arranging nursery and care places as well as individual places in schools and psychosocial support. Furthermore, the city is also providing administrative assistance in processing aid applications from flood victims in the district of Ahrweiler.
Many staff members at the city authorities have also been affected by the flood disaster, reports Achim Thiebes from the staff council; some of them have lost everything. Thiebes says that employees are entitled to up to 20 days of special leave. Helpers receive up to five days. A special regulation also allows employees to make days of holiday and overtime available to affected colleagues who need more time for cleaning up. Colleagues have also set up an account to collect donations for the affected staff.
(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen, Translation: Caroline Kusch)