Germany flooding: Arloff counts the cost of houses wrecked and lives ruined by ‘surprise’ deluge

It was all too much for Monica Decker, who broke down as she explained what had happened in the village of Arloff.

Roads in the village, around 50 miles (81km) from the Belgian border, have been turned into rivers, streets are covered in mud and outside houses and apartments, ruined possessions sit, waiting to be taken away.

Monica, originally from Ireland, wept as she told how the family business, located in a nearby town, had been destroyed. “Gone,” she said. “Completely gone.”

Wiping away tears, she said “so many people dead all over the place and they couldn’t get any help because it all happened too quick. It’s unbelievable.”

“Thousands are missing,” she added, and, with mobile connections down, it was impossible to call people to check.

She said a woman who had been out walking her dog with her brother-in-law, had been swept away. “Caught by surprise by the flood.”

More than 120 people have been killed and hundreds more are missing after the catastrophic flooding across Germany and Belgium.

Several villages are cut off and it’s feared a dam could burst following Thursday’s catastrophe.

Further on, we met Nils Nettersheim, who was moving the contents of his house outside with the help of his father, Bernd.

Inside, the place had been wrecked and liquid mud covered some of the floors.

The deluge, Nils said, was unexpected.

“A few years ago, we had a small flood”, which he indicated with his hands had caused flooding of around six inches.

“We expected similar, so we built small walls. Within an hour, the water was rising more and more. We tried to seal doors, but it rose more and more, and the doors were breaking.

“We heard crashes outside, the gate was breaking. It was a shock, definitely, especially when the front door was breaking.

“If anyone had been on the lower [basement] floor, they would have been dead,” he concluded grimly, given how fast the water was moving.

There was glass in the water, as well as rocks, lumps of wood, even barrels, he added.

Jackie Kroesinger and her husband live nearby but had come to help her goddaughter, who lives with her parents in Arloff.

“They just rent here and barricaded the doors, but nothing helped. Yesterday morning they showed up here and everything was under water.”

Asked how high the water rose, Jackie pointed to a mark on the outside wall of the house higher than the top of her head.

“It’s the same inside of the house,” she said. “So all the furniture is a mess, destroyed. Everything on the ground floor. We still have to rip out the kitchen because everything is soaked.”

Jackie said she had never seen anything like it and the highest rainfall she could remember was “a couple of inches”.

Officials have warned communities in both Germany and Belgium “are still in danger”, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel expecting “many” more deaths amid further rainstorm warnings for Friday.

The total number killed in Germany alone has risen to at least 103, according to Reuters news agency, citing officials, with communities across the North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate states affected.

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