Bonn Sports clubs, members of carnival clubs, groups of friends: In Bonn, the weekend was all about collecting donations for victims of the flood disaster in the region. Many residents brought what they could carry. And many storage facilities could not handle the influx of donations.
It’s Saturday morning and the friendly man at the barricade in front of the entrance to the rear courtyard on Friesdorfer Strasse in Bad Godesberg wants to know what we want to donate. There is a reason for the presorting. "Originally, we wanted to finish on Friday evening because we were literally overrun and were already full to the rafters," says Andreas Löbbing, first chairman of the Allgemeine Karnevalsgesellschaft Prinzengarde (AKP), pointing to the hall behind him where they store their carnival floats. Relief supplies were still piling up, even though an efficient shuttle service to the Ahr Valley had already been set in motion.
Personal contacts help
What is needed in the disaster area is learned through personal contacts. "There are also private neighborhood initiatives in the flooded areas that have organized themselves and try to keep track of what is needed. We keep in touch with Walporzheim, for example," says Löbbing, listing what he and the helpers are currently prioritizing to get to the once idyllic wine village on the middle Ahr, where many people have lost everything: "Drugstore items, clothing from underwear to jackets, shoes, tools from shovels to screwdrivers, rubber boots, work gloves - the need is all-encompassing." Löbbing says he doesn't yet know how to proceed: "We'll see how the demand develops in the coming week and then take it from there," he says. Constanze da Silva drove up from Unkel in her car, bringing water, food and some toys: "So that the children have something to distract them," she says.
Many hands work together
In front, on the road near the Aral gas station, traffic jams form again and again because people from Bonn drive up with full trunks or entire delivery trucks to help the people on the Ahr. A freight company from next door provides packaging material, the Bad Godesberg carnival prince and princess a truck, the city marketing association some pallets of drinking water - and off goes the next load.
And so it is, that overnight, a carnival club has become an aid organization. The AKP is just one example of how a small snowball can develop into an avalanche of willingness to help in Bonn these days: Someone takes the initiative, club members join in, infrastructure is taken care of and the news is spread via media, internet and social networks - and a few hours later the warehouse, the barn or the sports field is full. As was the case on Sunday at TV Rheindorf on its sports field in the north of Bonn. Or at Sportfreunde Ippendorf, where Nina Hänseler, coach of the second women's team, initiated the fundraising campaign.
At 6 p.m. the gathering of donations had started, barely an hour later the huge influx had to be stopped in order to keep track of everything. Also in front of the Henseler Hof in Niederbachem there were carnival club members sending trucks full of relief supplies to the disaster area. Their destination: a collection point at the Nürburgring. Two members of the KG Rot-Gold were badly hit by the flood in the Ahr valley. In response to an appeal on Facebook by President Claudia Metze, not only were donations received; at the collection point, people who didn’t even know each other worked hand in hand to help the efforts along. Spontaneously, the Festausschuss Bad Godesberger Karneval sent a second truck to Niederbachem so that it could also be loaded. And a local supermarket contributed pallets and supplies as well.
THW assembly point at the Telekom Dome
Meanwhile, the convoys of the "real" aid organizations roar across Bonn's bridges over the Rhine. Over the weekend, the green (German Armed Forces), red (fire department) and blue (THW) vehicle convoys came from all corners of Germany to the Ahr, the Eifel and the western Rhine-Sieg district to relieve exhausted rescue workers. They definitely stood out on the main roads. (The Technisches Hilfswerk or THW is the Federal Agency for Technical Relief - it is a civil protection agency comprised of volunteers and helps in the case of natural disasters and accidents.) On the parking lot of the Telekom Dome, the THW set up a collection and distribution point for external help on Friday. Coordination of the relief workers from these organizations was taking place here, and workers were directed to specific disaster areas. "So far, we are bundling units from all over North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Lower Saxony here," explains THW press spokesman Sebastian Vogler.
And so the willingness to help in Bonn this weekend resembles a puzzle with 40,000 pieces. Countless appeals for monetary donations are also circulating through circles of friends and finding their way via social networks - for example, in the ranks of a former high school graduating class of the Beethoven-Gymnasium, which is supporting a collection campaign of a Bonn concert logistics company that has unceremoniously converted its location in Grafschaft into a reception center for families. "It has also affected our closest circle," writes a former classmate. Many conversations in town this weekend have only this one topic. For Sunday afternoon, the churches scheduled an ecumenical devotion in the Namen-Jesu church.
COLLECTION POINT MÜNSTERPLATZ - Bonn-City association sets up collection point for donations
The Bonn-City association will also be collecting donations for flood victims in the coming days. Clothing, blankets, towels, hygiene articles and canned food are especially in demand, says managing director Maike Reinhardt. Initiated by the company Showtime, which belongs to the association, donations will be accepted on the following dates:
Monday, July 19: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Malentes Theater Palast, Godesberger Allee 69; 2 to 4 p.m.: Bonnox Boardinghaus, In der Raste 5-9.
Tuesday, July 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Münsterplatz.
Wednesday, July 21 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Brückenforum, Friedrich-Breuer-Strasse 17; 2 to 4 p.m. Sport Meile, Otto-Hahn-Strasse 96.
Thursday, July 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Münsterplatz; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Malentes Theater Palast, Godesberger Allee 69; 2 to 4 p.m. Bonnox Boardinghaus, In der Raste 5-9.
Orig. text: Rüdiger Franz