War and fuel prices Fewer and fewer helpers at weekends in the Ahr flood area
Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler · Ukraine war, fuel prices and Corona infections are causing the number of volunteers in the Ahr flood area to decline. According to Marc Ulrich, initiator of the volunteer shuttle, there is a shortage of around 200 volunteers, especially on weekends.
On weekdays, 80 to 100 still come to remove plaster and floor coverings in damaged houses so that they can dry sufficiently, said the initiator of the Helpers' Shuttle, Marc Ulrich, to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. That would be sufficient, he said. "But on Saturdays we actually need 450 helpers," he added. Because then there is also a large greening operation in destroyed gardens. Last weekend, however, only 270 volunteers arrived. The flash flood in July 2021 killed 134 people in the Ahr valley.
According to Ulrich, many helpers now prefer to pack boxes with donations in kind for Ukrainians in view of the war in their homeland. "You can't outweigh the suffering of some with the suffering of others," said the entrepreneur. "But it remains the case that helpers are still needed here too." Other volunteers dropped out because they "could not cope" with the skyrocketing fuel prices, or because of one of the currently frequent Corona infections.
In the greening campaign with the punning name "We Ahr back", there is an "admission stop" after 365 orders from flood victims for a total of more than 76,000 square metres of gardens, according to the helper shuttle service. Plants and seeds are being donated, according to Ulrich. The largely still devastated Ahr Valley has largely disappeared from public attention, also in view of the Ukraine war: "People already think 20 kilometres away from here that everything is fine in the Ahr Valley, because you hear so little about it." When it’s quite the opposite – as a video produced for the internet shows.
According to Ulrich, on Saturdays and Sundays the helpers are still driven down to the Ahr valley in buses from a collection point in Grafschaft, while on weekdays they are sent to their places of work in their own cars. "The bus shuttle on weekends is initially planned until the end of May, then we will see." (Original text: dpa / Translation: Mareike Graepel)