Flooding in the Ahr valley: Malu Dreyer under pressure because of SMS on the night of the disaster
Flood in the Ahr Valley
“It’s really bad”: Text messages from the flood night put Prime Minister Malu Dreyer in distress
Even a year after the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley, the political aftershocks are not over. Two Rhineland-Palatinate ministers have already vacated their posts in the course of the investigation. Now Prime Minister Malu Dreyer is also coming under pressure – because of twelve text messages.
More than 180 people lost in the flood disaster in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate her life in the summer of 2021. More than a year later, the investigation is still ongoing.
Just last week, the Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz announced his resignation. He was criticized for previously known police videos from the night of the disaster and the subsequent deployment report by the helicopter pilots to his ministry.
Now his boss at the time is also coming under pressure. On Monday, twelve text messages were sent between Prime Minister Malu Dreyer and Lewentz announced that “Bild” had first reported. The opposition in Rhineland-Palatinate, led by CDU parliamentary group leader Christian Baldauf, sees the text messages as proof of their political failure on the night of the disaster.
Malu Dreyer: “Ok. Have a nice evening”
On July 14, 2021 at 9:42 p.m., Dreyer wrote: “I hear that the peak flood is not reached until noon tomorrow? It’s really bad.” In the same message, she asked her interior minister whether the then Environment Minister Anne Spiegel (Greens) was informed about the situation – because she was “really a bit nervous”.
Lewentz replied that Spiegel had “its own position system”. Apparently that was initially enough to calm the Prime Minister. “Ok. Good evening,” Dreyer wrote back. As reported by “T-Online” and “Focus”, among others, the police helicopter “Sperber 2” took off at this time for a reconnaissance flight. According to his own statement, a flight technician who was on board telephoned the situation center of the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior after the first flight and shared his assessment that everything that was available to the police was in the Ahr Valley must be sent. It was “probably the worst situation” that Rhineland-Palatinate and the police had ever had to deal with, he said at a meeting of the committee in Mainz on Friday.
Dreyer apparently not available for hours
A few hours later, at 12:58 a.m., Lewentz wanted to inform Dreyer about the worsening situation, according to the news report. “Dear Malu, the situation is escalating. […] There may be/may have been deaths,” he wrote.
Dreyers didn’t reply until 5:33 a.m.: “Dear Roger, I can be reached again.” According to media reports, 134 people had already died by then.
The then chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz is also mentioned in the SMS. Shortly before 10 a.m., Dreyer wrote to her Minister of the Interior that “Olaf” had called and asked “what makes sense. Can and should he go somewhere?”
CDU accuses Dreyer of “complete failure”.
For CDU faction leader Baldauf, the news is evidence of the “complete failure of Dreyer and her government.” “There was never a word of honest regret. Ms. Dreyer should finally apologize. She has not lived up to her political responsibility to this day,” Baldauf told the “Bild”.
Alfred Sebastian, mayor of Denau, also expressed his frustration to the newspaper: “We were promised unbureaucratic help. But nothing is moving forward.”
Sources: “picture“; “T-Online“; “Focus“; dpa