“We lack the courage to
cope with catastrophes.”
Western Germany was struck by a flood disaster in the summer. Our company decided to make a donation of 20,000 euros to Samaritan’s Purse e. V., active on the ground for disaster relief. Many people also offered their active support, including our Chief Financial Officer Daniel Zimmermann.
In August, the Ahr Valley in Rhineland-Palatinate experienced one of the worst floods for decades. Many villages and small towns were devastated by the extraordinarily violent masses of water. Today, dozens of inhabitants are still reported missing and the authorities recorded a death toll of over 180. Daniel Zimmermann spontaneously decided to head for Ahrweiler and help out.
“When I saw images of the catastrophe on television, I thought this would be an opportunity to actively help and not just feel sympathy for the people,” he tells us. When he arrived in the flood area, he was shocked. “The entire region was so ravaged – the damage was immense,” he reports. There was an improvised administrative center where volunteers could sign up. Helpers were assigned to various places. Zimmermann ultimately ended up in an apartment building where he helped remove soaked walls, plaster and floor screed. The old lady that lived there had hardly been able to rescue any of her belongings. The water of the Ahr – once again a small, unimposing stream – had turned into a torrent within a very short time, breaking down doors of dwellings. Within minutes, basements were flooded and the cars that inhabitants had parked on a hill after getting the flood warning from the authorities were thrust around in the flood water like floating projectiles.
“The relief crews were organized in a very professional manner,” Zimmermann reports. In the weeks after the catastrophe, up to one thousand volunteers were on site every day, he estimates. It was possible to repair the worst damage in this way. Now come the most difficult task, however – in the months to come, scores of professional tradespeople will be needed to make the houses habitable again, and winter is just around the corner.
“Those who witnessed all of this realized that people in this region might well get material aid but what they will require most of all for quite some time to come is spiritual welfare. None of us has ever experienced anything like this – simply losing everything you had.”
Daniel Zimmermann still thinks a lot about the two days spent in Ahrweiler. Would he help again, he was asked. “Definitely, but I hope there will not be a second time,” he responds.
In Germany, where nature rarely puts people’s lives in danger, events like the flood in the West have made us aware just how vulnerable we actually are. “We lack the courage to cope with catastrophes,” Daniel Zimmermann says.