Germany flooding: Cleanup 'could take months' says host
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The death toll is expected to rise as more than 100 people are still missing in Germany. People are still coping with the fallout from the horrific floods that tore through their homes along with the memories of watching water wash away everything in its wake.
Leonie from Ahrweiler had the terrifying experience of watching the water destroy the city.
The electricity had gone out and it was pitch black. The only way they could see was with candles and flashlights.
“It smelled extremely like gasoline everywhere, because all of the gasoline from the cars which were also swimming around,” she told the Express.co.uk.
“It had a really strong scent, which gave us a headache.
READ MORE: Germany in heath crisis as flooding ‘turns drinking water to sewage’
“It was kind of frightening, but honestly, there wasn’t a lot of time to think about it.”
She was with her mother, grandfather and two younger sisters, aged seven and nine.
“One of my little sisters threw up twice because she didn’t know what was going on,” Leonie said.
At about 11pm Leonie and her family had gone to bed, but before falling asleep she was disturbed by loud noises outside their home.
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She looked outside to notice that there was a lot of water running down the street, but didn’t realise the severity of the situation until the water level started to rise to her doorstep.
She woke up her mother and grandfather and they started to bring food and water upstairs.
However, the nightmare had just begun – a massive wave burst through the front door, obliterating everything in its wake.
“My mom and I were standing at the bottom of the steps in the hallway, so we were able to jump up. But my grandpa was standing next to us and was, like, pushed by the wave into the living room. And we had to pull him out.”
Her family retreated to the top floor of the house and waited out the storm.
All of them slept in the same bed waiting for it to be over.
“I didn’t sleep, though, because I kept checking the water level on the stairs.
“I counted the stairs to see if it was rising or going down, and at some point it went down again.”
Stranded and waiting for the water level to lower, Leonie and her family had no connection to the world.
Her mum had lost her phone when the wave swept into the house and Leonie’s phone could not send messages.
They would talk to neighbours through their windows, throwing food to those who didn’t have any.
When things started to look better and the water began to recede, it was still up to their ankles, people in the neighbourhood received information that there was another wave heading for them.
They couldn’t fact check anything so Leonie and her family packed their things in five minutes and headed for higher ground.
“It turned out to be kind of, like, fake news. But there wasn’t much time to think. None of us had an opportunity to research. And in that kind of situation, you don’t think much.”
After the horrifying incident, she had to take care of her younger sisters who still have nightmares.
“They weren’t doing as well. You know, that was a huge shock for them. And my little sister even shivered in her sleep and had nightmares because she’s still really scared.”
The people of Ahrweiler received no warning of the impending crashing waves.
German paper Der Spiegel reported last week that in Wuppertal, north of Cologne, people received flood warnings from a monk ringing a bell.
European Flood Awareness System did send warnings to the German government who put firefighters and police on higher alert.
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