14. July 2022

Willingness to help and solidarity One year after the flood disaster, the University of Bonn draws a positive balance

One year after the flood disaster, the University of Bonn draws a positive balance

The flood disaster of July 14 and 15, 2021, claimed human lives and caused immense property damage in large parts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. Members of the University of Bonn were affected, too. Many were in danger of their lives and had lost apartments and household goods. The readiness to help and the solidarity in the region and beyond was great afterwards. With the campaign "WIR helfen" (We help) initiated by the Rector, the University collected donations and helped unbureaucratically. Now a review took place on the anniversary of the flood.

Symbolic photo
Symbolic photo - A greeting to the helpers on a window in Ahrweiler. © Photo: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
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With each passing day after the heavy rain incident, it became clearer that many University members were also among those affected. Helping them quickly and without complications was the goal of the measures initiated by the Rectorate under the leadership of Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch. Together with Provost Holger Gottschalk, he convened a crisis team to prepare relief measures.

A total of 180 University members - 79 students and 101 employees - were affected. Many had lost their homes, and household goods and infrastructure were destroyed. There were also deaths in the immediate family. Students reported being unable to take exams, needing financial assistance or psychosocial support. A team of administrative staff followed up on each report, recorded needs and organized contacts for further assistance.

Special leave for helpers and those affected

At the same time, the University management had put together a comprehensive assistance package: Special leave and loans in the form of advance pay were offered. In addition, the Rectorate mobilized further assistance: Equipment such as building dryers and high-pressure cleaners could be borrowed to repair flood damage. Emergency care for children was organized, as were offers of psychological help. University apartments were also provided as temporary emergency housing. An online help exchange was set up to match those in need with those willing to help. Many University employees set off for the disaster area with equipment to help clean up the remains - with friends, relatives and employees. They also received generous special leave.

We help" fundraising campaign

On the initiative of the Rector, the University also launched a call for donations among its members. Under the motto "WE help", University employees could have donations deducted directly from their wages. Many followed the call: Around 60,000 euros were collected and distributed as emergency aid to the affected University employees. The Rectorate had issued guidelines for this. In the meantime, all donations have been distributed among those affected.

Looking back on the past year, Rector Hoch drew balance: "The disaster affected many people in such a terrible way - many are still suffering from the consequences today. I am very moved by the helpfulness and the solidarity that we have experience afterwards. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who donated and who lent a hand. Their generosity and the high level of personal commitment are impressive." There is still much to be done in the flooded areas, he said. The University therefore continues to stand in solidarity with all those affected.

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