A week after devastating floods hit western Germany, the German cabinet has approved an emergency aid package worth hundreds of millions of euros.
The federal government will match the emergency aid being provided by the federal states affected by the floods up to 200 million euros (235 million dollars), meaning a total aid package of up to 400 million euros could be available.
The money is to be used to repair the worst structural damage to buildings and municipal infrastructure, as well as to help in special emergencies on a case-by-case basis.
Following the disaster, which has now claimed more than 170 lives in Germany alone, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have promised the rapid distribution of financial aid.
A billion-euro reconstruction fund is also planned, though it’s expected to take years to develop, according to Scholz. He added that a decision on the exact amount the reconstruction fund will disburse cannot be taken until the full extent of the flood damage has been assessed.
On Wednesday, Scholz went further still, by suggesting the possibility of more emergency aid for flood victims.
“We will do what is needed,” Scholz said, adding that if more financial aid was required, the federal and state governments would make more money available. “Everyone can count on it now.”
Scholz referenced the six billion euros needed for reconstruction during the last major floods in Germany. “We want to make sure that the reconstruction aid package is made available right away.”
Scholz also emphasized the government’s commitment to avoiding red tape. “We want to do this without new planning regulations. If a bridge has to be rebuilt, if a house has to be rebuilt, if a school has to be rebuilt, you won’t have to begin a new planning approval process.”
The flooding devastated large parts of western Germany as well as neighbouring Belgium and the Netherlands.
The states of North Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate have been the worst affected by the disaster, though Bavaria and Saxony have also seen severe flooding.