German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned on Saturday to the scene of deadly flooding in the west of the country in a bid to shore up support for her embattled party before this month’s national election.
Since the July disaster put crisis management and climate change back at the top of the agenda, Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their unpopular candidate, Armin Laschet, have been haemorrhaging support.
With the September 26 vote fast approaching, the outgoing Merkel checked in on the flood-stricken village of Altenahr in Rhineland-Palatinate state, and will view two inundated towns in Laschet’s own neighbouring North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday.
After touring the rubble-strewn roads of Altenahr where the vast majority of homes are still uninhabitable, Merkel acknowledged residents’ trauma.
“When you are here you get a small sense of the mortal fear many people had in the night of the flooding, who had to wait it out on top of or under their roofs,” she said.
“We will not forget you, and the next government will pick up where we left off” to ensure public aid reaches the victims, she pledged.
Merkel, who will retire from politics when a new government is in place, had made a well-received visit in the immediate aftermath of the deluge, offering billions of euros in federal aid to rebuild ravaged infrastructure.—Agencies