Merkel Promises Quick Support for German Flood Reconstruction

Chancellor Angela Merkel promised prompt financial support for rebuilding efforts as she said rebuilding regions hit by flooding will be a long process.

Merkel visited devastated regions with Armin Laschet, the state leader poised to succeed her after the September election. The two toured Bad Muenstereifel, a town near Bonn in Germany’s Rhine valley that was ravaged by flooding last week.

“Reconstruction will take a long time,” Merkel said on Tuesday, adding that her cabinet will meet Wednesday to approve immediate assistance and kick start the recovery.

Her government has also vowed to upgrade the country’s early-warning system for natural catastrophes as criticism mounts that it failed to help evacuate flooded towns, as authorities look to rebuild from a catastrophe that’s killed at least 160 people.

Less than 10 weeks before the Sept. 26 election, the disaster also has the potential to upend the election campaign as policies to fight climate change move front and center for German voters.

Laschet said his administration in North Rhine-Westphalia -- one of the hardest hit regions -- will double the aid offered by the federal government. The state premier was pilloried over the weekend for appearing to laugh in the background as the German president solemnly pledged assistance.

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