Reconstruction of the flood night: why didn’t anyone help?

Dhe water did not come out of nowhere. But it came quickly. Shortly after 6 p.m. on July 14th, Julian Kay and his father-in-law want to dismantle the boilers in the basement of his house in Altenahr so ​​that they are not destroyed again by the flood. They have experience with floods, and this time it is rising faster than usual. At 6:34 pm, Jessica Kay, his wife, calls 112 for the first time also dials the emergency call. They are safe there. It is a fateful sentence. Jessica Kay says goodbye to her parents, they live in the house next door. It’s the last time they’ll talk to each other.

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland based in Wiesbaden.

Jessica Kay makes short videos on her cell phone from the first floor of her house. A small red car is being torn from where the road is otherwise. Around 7 p.m. the power went out. Kay and her husband are starting to take what is important to them, contracts and technology above all, to the attic. By half past eight, the parents’ house is halfway under water. Kay waves to her parents from above. Even if the other house is less than 15 meters away, they cannot hear each other. Just deafening noise. Around 10:40 p.m. there is a violent crash. The gable wall of the parents’ house breaks off, the water tears the fragments away. “It looked like a doll’s house,” she says.

Panic rises in her. It means to the parents to walk away from the edge of the abortion. Again and again she calls 911. She rarely gets through. “I pleaded, begged that they would save my parents and us.” She says her parents may die soon. The employees on the emergency call seem overwhelmed, the tone is getting more and more harsh, recalls Kay. Your parents should go to the roof, a helicopter is coming soon.

You don’t tell her when exactly. And how are the parents supposed to get on the roof? They are 64 and 83. Once they see a helicopter, they wave and glow, but it turns away. The Ministry of the Interior in Rhineland-Palatinate, citing the control center, states that helicopters were sent after calls for help. Winch operations were made more difficult by the weather situation and the danger from power lines and trees. At around midnight, when they call the emergency services, Kay is told that there is nothing more they can do today: there are no longer any pilots with night flight permits.

“We do not live in any developing country”

She screams out of anger and desperation. And have a little luck. Guests in the hotel next door hear them and lift out a door leaf. Between the roof and a balcony they balance with their dog and cat over the water. They are safe in the large hotel building. Jessica Kay tries to wave to her parents. But in the darkness, in the rushing water, she can no longer see or hear them. First the back wall of the house loosens around one o’clock, then the water sweeps the entire house with it, which has stood there for over 100 years.

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