Nürburg Emergency vehicles, tents, relief supplies everywhere: The Nürburgring has become a major center for aid in the disaster area. More than 2,000 helpers are sent out on their missions from here. Countless donations in kind are stored in four halls.
Engine noise and hectic confusion: nothing unusual at the Nürburgring. But in this case, the rumbling is not coming from the trucks that would have held their Grand Prix here this weekend, but from one of the many helicopters taking off or landing in the newly created staging area of the technical operations center of the AKNZ (Academy for Crisis Management, Emergency Planning and Civil Defense). This helicopter flies drinking water to one of the affected disaster areas somewhere in the Ahrweiler district. It is transported in so-called intermediate bulk (IBC) containers, which can be stacked efficiently and are often used to supply water to citizens in the event of a disaster.
The helipad is located at the edge of the paddock on the well-known race track in the Eifel region. On the remaining area, there are between 600 and 700 vehicles from THW, the federal and fire departments or the German Red Cross - including an amphibious vehicle. Some ambulances have foreign license plates: they have come from Luxembourg, among other places, to be deployed on the Ahr. And the flow of new rescue workers and heavy machinery is not diminishing. The press officer explains that 2,000 rescue workers are housed here, about two-thirds of whom are out in the field at any given time. The others are resting, for example on a camp bed - set up in the driver's boxes.
On Saturday night, the support staff moved from the Haribo site in the county to the Nürburgring - for reasons of space. Already since Thursday evening, further halls of the extensive area of the Nürburgring GmbH have served as collection point and storage for tons of relief supplies. The appeal in the media was so successful that three halls and the historic paddock, i.e. an area of almost 10,000 square meters, are already filled with relief supplies. No more donations have been accepted since Saturday.
Hard-working helpers, all volunteers, have been toiling for days sorting through the mountains of donations: in one hall alone, nearly 30 Bobby-Cars for children are piled up. In rows of three next to them: Baby carriages. There must be 70 of them. It will be some time before these relief supplies reach the region. What has already been picked up by aid organizations for distribution in the affected towns and communities are hygiene articles. "The helpers here have been tirelessly packing hygiene bags," says Alexander Gerhard, press spokesman for Nürburgring GmbH.
His review of the last few days: "Together with ADAC Mittelrhein, we had decided that the Truck Grand Prix could not take place due to the emergency situation and at the same time jointly set up the collection point."
Which races and events will still be canceled, in reverse, how long the Nürburgring will keep its new function, he can not say anything about this, except: "We are in discussion with operations staff and politics." When asked, the Hochwasser-Ahrweiler press center also confirms: "Currently, we can't say how long the structures at the Nürburgring will still be needed."
(Original text: Raphaela Sabel / Translation: Mareike Graepel)