Ahrweiler – Many of them have already risked their lives on missions abroad, experienced first hand what war means and fought directly at the front. Nevertheless, it is a particularly emotional and exceptional situation for almost 400 soldiers who are now deployed in the locations in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, which were badly affected by the flood.
“Even in Afghanistan, where we went in 2002, it wasn’t as bad as it was here!” This is how Sergeant Bastian (44) describes the image of the destruction in Rech in the Ahrweiler district (Rhineland-Palatinate).
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I just feel sorry for the people. “
He and his comrades set up floating jetties and rapid armored bridges to make places cut off from the outside world accessible again.
The tank pioneer battalion 130 from Minden is in the Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler area with 386 soldiers on official assistance. The task is to clear the paths, to repair them temporarily, to lay further bridges over the Ahr and to clear houses of mud.
Only a good 13 kilometers away from Rech, in the town of Gelsdorf, is Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Stefan Klein in action. With his battalion he ensures that civil aid can really reach the people. A mission that even an experienced soldier cannot practice.
“But I have noticed that what we learn as military personnel, namely to assess situations, make quick decisions and get help to the people, works just as well in the military as in the civil, ”says Klein.
And the soldiers receive a lot of recognition for their work.
“We feel a great sense of gratitude,” explains Klein. “When we made a place accessible again at the beginning of the week with the help of a bridge, the people on site had tears in their eyes and crossed the bridge arm in arm with soldiers – that was very emotional.”