Flood disaster: the heroes of mayschoss save their village

Where the center of the once picture-perfect Eifel village Mayschoss debris and mud have remained. Only the remains of the walls of the savings bank still exist, and from the broken window of the "Picasso" pizzeria someone is shoveling mud onto the filthy street. Only the church, built on a hill, stands there in the summer sun as if the flood of the century on the Ahr had never happened.

Inside: bustle like at a weekly market. On the altar lie Rubber boots, First-aid kits, soap, clean underpants pile up on the benches.

Sophie Sermann (22) keeps track of things and knows where everything is – the headlamps, the tinned food, the medicines. "I can't do anything at home anyway. Through our collection center, we provide people with a piece of Safety."

Joining forces against the flood chaos

The people of Mayschoss join forces to fight against the crisis Chaos. The valley village surrounded by forest and vineyards in Rhineland-Palatinate is cut off from the outside world: Highway 267, the main route between the devastated tourist towns in the flooded Ahr Valley, has been swept away by the floodwaters, and the railroad tracks are no longer there either.

Only stony farm roads lead to the Disaster area – or out. Therefore, the Mayschosser take the disaster relief in hand. "We help ourselves," says Sophie Sermann, who was actually planning to take her state exam as a physical therapist next month. Instead, she provides survivors with the essentials – brought here at walking pace by private individuals with sturdy all-terrain vehicles.

It's a time for heroic deeds: Hamburg had Helmut Schmidt during the 1962 storm surge, Mayschoss has Hubertus Kunz. The 71-year-old mayor walks along the muddy village street and leads the way to his house, a 130-year-old quarry stone building decorated with geraniums and vines. On the way there, he hugs a weeping woman, jokes with a man shoveling mud. Humor helps relieve tension.

Floods: the mayor was also scared to death

Since 1989, the CDU man has held his honorary office – with one interruption – and has risen above himself in times of crisis. In the meantime German soldiers with pickaxes there and helicopters landing on an asphalt square in front of the halfway intact station building. But in the early days, there was no outside help. So Kunz declared Mayschoss an autonomous community, appointed a crisis team and had a forest road tarred to lead the village out of isolation. Formalities don't bother him: "It will take many months before the federal highway is repaired. We don't have that much time. The Greens will quarter me when this is over. But I don't care," he drones.

The man with the full white beard has bigger worries. When the flood came, he and his family took refuge on the roof and waited there in Fear of death from. Now the house is uninhabitable. Kunz has taken up residence on a fruit farm and thinks about the community day and night. He believes in swarm intelligence: "Among 1,000 people, you'll find all the skills you need in an emergency." In the Crisis team firefighters, tradesmen, a former policeman with experience in Afghanistan, work in the barrel cellar.

Kunz has been in politics for 50 years. He knows just about everyone in Rhineland-Palatinate from local council members to interior ministers – including from his time as chief staff councillor in the Mainz Ministry of Education. On the "short service" he secured the support of the Ludwigshafen professional fire department to build a water treatment, a Infirmary, Sanitation and a Food supply build up.In the barrel cellar store 300.000 liters of wine. That is lost

That spreads Hope – and that's the most important thing in this situation, thinks Matthias Baltes (39), managing director of the local winegrowers' cooperative. In the hall where the grapes were processed until a week ago, dirt-encrusted wine bottles lie around. For the cooperative – founded 150 years ago and thus the world's oldest still existing association of Winegrowers – the flood could mean the beginning of the end.

"In the underwater barrel cellar store 300.000 liters of wine. It's lost because the barrels are open-pored." Nevertheless: Baltes and his comrades-in-arms are planning the next harvest. "We have to Vineyards save."It depends on this whether Mayschoss and the other wine villages on the Ahr have a future – or become ghost towns. "In the Ahr valley everything really hangs Winegrowing."

Meanwhile, in the church, Sophie Sermann, a budding physiotherapist, sorts the aid supplies. How long does she think she'll be needed as a disaster relief worker? Sermann doesn't know it, but "the supporters, they'll soon be fewer. "We have to go to the Work and money earn. At some point, life must go on."

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