The floods in the Ahr Valley cost the lives of at least 134 people. Thousands have lost their four walls. A year later, the Federal President and Federal Chancellor also commemorate the flood victims.
On the first anniversary of the deadly Ahr flood disaster, the leaders of the state come to the river valley this Thursday. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to speak to those affected, helpers and local politicians in the communities of Altenahr and Dernau from 11 a.m. He is accompanied by the head of government of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (SPD). Steinmeier then travels to Euskirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia to take part in a memorial service for the flood victims there.
While the head of state is no longer taking part in the central Ahr memorial event on Thursday evening in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is expected there as a guest without a speech. Up to 2,000 people can gather in the spa park of the heavily flood-damaged district town.
According to the state government, the memory of the victims should be combined with a “visible signal for solidarity and a common start”. The program of the public event at 5.30 p.m. will be broadcast by SWR on television and as a live stream on the Internet. Speeches by Prime Minister Dreyer, the non-party Ahrweiler District Administrator Cornelia Weigand and the Mayor of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Guido Orthen (CDU), are planned. Words from four flood victims are also on the program. Artists from the region create the musical framework.
A decentralized commemoration is planned for this Friday in the flood-damaged communities. According to the Ahrweiler district administration, the church bells should ring in many places around 6 p.m. “as a sign of shared sadness and hope”. Individual human chains are also planned in various municipalities.
Churches are planning memorial services on both Thursday and Friday. The Catholic Bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, and the President of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, Thorsten Latzel, are expected to attend such an ecumenical gathering on Friday at 4 p.m. in Ahrbrück on a meadow.
In Rhineland-Palatinate alone, at least 135 people died in the flood disaster on the night of July 15, 2021 – 134 in the Ahr Valley and one man in the Eifel. Two people are still missing. In North Rhine-Westphalia, 49 people died in floods after extremely heavy rain.