Politicians debate ‘€30 billion’ fund to rebuild German flood zones

German politicians will discuss a potential €30 billion relief fund to for the reconstruction of flood-hit areas at a meeting between Angela Merkel and the state leaders on Tuesday.

Politicians debate '€30 billion' fund to rebuild German flood zones
Part of Bundestraße in Altenahr was completely swept away by the floods and will have to be rebuilt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey

Mammoth construction projects in areas ravaged by July’s floods would financed half by the federal government and half by the states, according to a government paper obtained by DPA. 

Though the exact sums are likely to be thrashed out at Tuesday’s meeting between Merkel and the state premiers, a ballpark figure of €30 billion has so far been put on the table.

Now a rapid parliamentary resolution from the Bundestag and Bundesrat is urgently needed, North Rhine-Westphalia state premier and chancellor candidate Armin Laschet (CDU) said on Monday.

READ ALSO: Frontrunner to succeed Merkel calls for up to €30 billion to rebuild flood-hit German towns

Malu Dreyer, who serves as the state premier in flood-bit Rhineland-Palatinate, agreed. 

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician told the German Editorial Network on Tuesday that haste was the order of the day.

“People have been hit hard and need the security and confidence that they will not be left alone in the reconstruction process either,” Dreyer said, adding that there was a huge amount of solidarity between the federal and state governments. 

“The sooner the Bundestag and Bundesrat meet the better for the people in the disaster areas,” she said.

Improvements to warning systems up for discussion

According to the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), the damage to businesses in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate alone amounts to a billion euros.

Cautious estimates by local chambers of commerce and industry put the number of companies directly affected at more than 11,000.

“The amount of damage to buildings and machinery alone could exceed €3.5 billion,” they said.


According to DPA, improvements to warnings for citizens are also set to be discussed on Tuesday.

These include a programme to upgrade sirens and a system that sends messages to mobile phone users similar to an SMS – to all those who are in the vicinity of a radio network at the time. This technology is already used in many other countries to warn against natural disasters such as floods.

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Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

Parts of Germany were once again pummelled by heavy thunderstorms on Monday - just days after the city of Paderborn was struck by a devastating tornado.

Western Germany hit by second round of severe storms

A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday by the German Weather Service (DWD), who cautioned residents in western and southwestern regions of the country that fierce gusts of wind, hailstones and heavy rain could once again be on the horizon.

A  second tornado could “not be ruled out” in the southwestern regions of the country, DWD warned. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, were struck by heavy rain and hailstorms and strong gusts of wind throughout the afternoon.

However, the worst of the thunder and hailstorms warnings were for the state of Baden-Württemberg. 

Here, DWD issued a Stage 3 weather warning – the second highest possible. Severe thunderstorms with gale-force winds at speeds of up to 110km per hour were forecast, with up to 50 litres of rain per square metre falling in a short space of time.

According to the meteorologists, the storms are expected sweep across to the eastern regions of the country and ease off in the evening.

The storms and severe weather warnings came days after the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia was hit by a devastating tornado.

According to the local fire brigade, 43 people were injured in the storm, with 13 of them needing to be hospitalised and one person reportedly fighting for their life. 

Railway services were cancelled across many parts of the west over the weekend, but resumed again on Monday.

Air travel in some parts of the country was also affected, with Frankfurt Airport in the central state of Hesse saying there was disruption to flights on Friday. 

Videos posted on social media depicted the strongest part of the tornado tearing through the city, ripping trees up by their roots.

The damage to infrastructure and buildings caused by the storm is estimated to be in the millions.

Schools remain closed

As of Monday, several schools and nurseries remained closed in both Paderborn and nearby Lippstadt due to fears that the buildings couldn’t be safely entered.

In the small town of Lippstadt alone, five nurseries and seven schools were closed for repairs on Monday, with administrators unable to say when they would reopen their doors.

“Given the extent of the damage we see at the various locations, it is currently unthinkable that classes can be held there in the next few days,” said Mayor Arne Moritz (CDU).

In Paderborn, meanwhile, drones were exploring five closed school buildings to check whether there was a risk of damaged roofs imploding. The streets where the schools are located have been closed off to the public and the police are believed to be patrolling outside to stop anyone entering.

READ ALSO: Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

Damaged roof in Paderborn

A damaged roof in the aftermath of the Paderborn storms. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

More frequent tornadoes? 

Tornadoes aren’t infrequent in Central Europe, but recently appear to be gaining in frequency and intensity, which experts suggest could be a result of climate change. 

In June 2021, a deadly tornado swept through several villages in the Czech Republic near the Slovakian and Austrian borders, killing six people and injuring a further 200. 

At time, climatologists pointed out that until 2020, the Czech Republic only saw a handful of tornadoes each year – and most of them were relatively mild.

Speaking to WDR on Sunday, climate researcher Dr. Mojib Latif drew a direct parallel between warmer temperatures and more violent and regular storms.  

“In Germany there are approximately between 20 and 40 tornadoes per year,” he told the regional media outlet. “We have to reckon with that. As the climate gets warmer and thunderstorms become more violent, the frequency of tornadoes will also increase.”

However, some experts have been more cautious about drawing a direct link.

“That simply cannot be determined at the moment,” meteorologist Jürgen Schmidt told RND. 

Schmidt thinks the perception that tornadoes have increased in recent years could have a slightly more prosaic explanation.

The fact that people are able to record them on their smartphones and share these images more widely could contribute to this impression, he said. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard