It's closing time in Krälingen, a small town above the Ahr valley. Summer sun, winding roads and old half-timbered houses. Just a few minutes' drive away: makeshift bridges, empty houses, construction sites - the consequences of the flood disaster in July 2021 are still visible in the valley. In Kralingen it all seems far away.
The consequences of the catastrophe seem far away in Kralingen
The first mobile homes appear behind a curve. Elfie and her husband as well as Mathilde have found a temporary home in two of these houses. "There's enough space for two yoga mats next to each other - and we have a great view here," enthuses Elfie. Despite the cheerful mood, one thing is clear: Elfie and Mathilde did not wish for "life in a tiny house", which has become a trend in recent years. For them it is a temporary emergency solution after the floods - financed by donations that went to Aktion Deutschland Hilft after the disaster. Several alliance organizations have also financed mobile homes and tiny houses. A total of over 300 accommodations have been created in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Memories of the flood night in the Ahr Valley
"The water came so quickly," Mathilde remembers the night of July 14th to 15th, 2021. "I sat up in the attic and cuddled in a blanket when it got dark." She found two tea lights and a few matches in her house in Kreuzberg. "I sat there all night and of course I was very scared." From outside she heard the water coming from all directions - and finally the first helicopters.
First, Mathilde stayed with her son in Cologne, but quickly realizes: "I'm not a city person. I grew up in the country, this is my home." A boarding house in Altenahr becomes their second emergency shelter - and the place where Elfie and her husband greeted with a "Hello, we're the new neighbors!" step into the life of the 72-year-old.
After the flood, the women support each other
The house of Elfie´s family in Altenburg is also uninhabitable after the flood. "We set up a flood flat share community in the pension," the 64-year-old recalls. "We spent the evenings together, drank a little wine and supported each other in the months that followed." Eventually they have to move out of the boarding house, but with a bit of luck, Elfie and Mathilde will remain neighbors. They have been living terrace by terrace in Krälingen since February 2022 and often spend evenings like this together. The municipalities are the owners and administrators of the mobile homes financed by Aktion Deutschland Hilft. Whoever moves in was decided on the basis of a means test. How long people will stay in the shelters depends on the renovation and construction work and varies widely. A major benefit is that people can stay close to their actual homes.
34 square meters that have become a home
"I'm grateful for this friendship and that I can live in such a beautiful house," says Mathilde. Orchids at the window, decorative hearts, a book to browse through, next to chocolate, prepared for the visit. Upholstered living room furniture made of dark wood, right next to it is the bright kitchenette, two small bedrooms, and a narrow bathroom. Even if the little space is a change, the 34 square meters have become a home for Mathilde. "Life has changed completely since the flood," says Elfie. "The many people who helped us - and who want to hear our stories - were and are positive. The neighborhood that we are allowed to cultivate here is also positive."
Nevertheless, she wishes for one thing above all: to return to her own house. It could be by the end of the year. But one thing is already certain: "Even if there will be a new neighborhood at some point, this friendship will remain."
Thanks to all donors who make this help possible!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
Get Reports via Email
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Give the gift of stability in a time of instability. Set up an automatic, monthly gift now and get matched at 100%—because the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt us all, and it will take all of us to overcome it. Terms and conditions apply.
Monthly giving is as easy, safe, and as inexpensive as a Netflix subscription. Start a monthly donation to Aktion Deutschland Hilft e.V. today and get matched at 100%. Terms and conditions apply.