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Scholz with rubber boots in the flood - displeasure from residents

On New Year's Eve he was in Verden on the Aller, now in Sangerhausen on the Helme: the floods are on the Federal Chancellor's mind at the beginning of the year. He has thanks and appreciation for the numerous helpers.

Chancellor in crisis region - Scholz with rubber boots in the flood - displeasure from residents

Olaf Scholz wears rubber boots. When the Chancellor arrives for his second flood visit, his footwear could be a sign that the situation has become even worse in recent days - in Verden on the Aller near Bremen, he was still without boots on New Year's Eve. Scholz has little interest in the boot issue and does not want to comment on it when he takes a serious look at the situation on the Helme in the village of Oberröblingen in Saxony-Anhalt on Thursday.

When the Chancellor lands in Sangerhausen by helicopter from Berlin, it is cloudy and rainy - as has often been the case in recent days. The small river Helme, normally only about two meters wide, has burst its banks many times over.

Scholz, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) and Minister President Reiner Haseloff (CDU) are shown a dyke that is threatening to burst - and above all they listen and ask questions. For example, they want to know whether there are enough sandbags in stock.

Weeks of flooding in Germany

This question is also on people's minds in other regions of Germany, which have been struggling with flooding for almost two weeks. In Lower Saxony, the continuous rainfall of the past few days has caused water levels to rise again, particularly in the catchment areas of the Hunte river near Bremen and the Hase river in Emsland. In some places, residents are still unable to return to their homes.

In Bavaria, the situation has worsened, particularly in the north, in Franconian regions and in parts of the Upper Palatinate. Some rivers in Rhineland-Palatinate are also much fuller. In North Rhine-Westphalia, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment reported rainfall of up to 35 liters per square meter within 24 hours. However, the water levels across the state had not yet reached the dimensions of the Christmas floods.

In other federal states, the situation has at least not worsened further: for example in Hesse, where the rivers Fulda, Lahn, Eder and Kinzig and their tributaries are still affected. In Saarland, the water levels of the Prims, Oberer Blies and Nied rivers have peaked and are falling.

Not a friendly reception for Olaf Scholz

Tens of thousands of helpers are deployed throughout Germany. Chancellor Scholz speaks to some of them during his visit to Saxony-Anhalt. The approximately 1600 inhabitants have been in a state of alarm since Christmas. "What we need is better coordination. No one here knows what the others are doing," says one resident. Scholz feels the resentment as soon as he arrives. Shouts of "Go straight back" can be heard. But there are also words of thanks, especially from the professional helpers.

The Chancellor is impressed by the solidarity on site. "This spirit of solidarity will also apply afterwards, and we won't leave anyone on their own," says Scholz, who is now wearing lace-up shoes again. He also promises to help with the subsequent repair of the damage. "It's clear that we can only do this together, and we have to show solidarity in Germany."

On site, Lemke points out that in the medium and long term, municipalities, federal states and the federal government need to agree on how to better prepare for such events. "The water needs space, you can see that up close here," she says. It will also be about "how help can be provided, where help is needed, financially, but also in other ways".

Floors as wet as a sponge

The impressions that Scholz gathers on site in southern Saxony-Anhalt are tremendous: flooded meadows and a much wider Helme, over which the drainage from the southern Harz runs. The ground is as wet as a sponge. The campsite at the Kelbra reservoir is under water. People in the region have repeatedly experienced flooding in recent years - but it hasn't been as bad and long-lasting as this time for a long time, says district administrator André Schröder. The Bundeswehr will be deployed from Monday.

According to the local farmers' association, almost every farmer in Lower Saxony is currently affected by flooding or water damage to their fields. "Several hundred thousand hectares of arable land and grassland are flooded," Landvolk President Holger Hennies told the German Press Agency. Hundreds of farms were also affected by flooding, "but fortunately only very few farms were so badly affected that stables were also affected and livestock had to be evacuated".

Pastures and meadows, arable land sown with grain or rapeseed as well as areas with sugar beet or potatoes - farmers fear a total loss of harvest for many areas. In addition, the continuous rain has made cultivation much more difficult, explains Karl-Friedrich Meyer, crop expert at the Lower Saxony Farmers' Association. According to Meyer, winter cereals, i.e. plants that were sown in the fall, "suffocate" when areas are under water for around ten days. Summer cereals can also be expected to yield around 20 percent less.

Rain turns into snow

The German Weather Service (DWD) has warned of continuous rain. It is now set to get colder. "The precipitation in the plagued flood areas is decreasing more and more and turning into snow," the DWD announced on Thursday. Winter is returning, it is getting increasingly cold and icy. The effects of the sub-zero temperatures on the flooded areas remained unclear at first.

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