Sawbridgeworth mum describes flood devastation in Germany as she waits for daughter to have life-changing operation
A mum has described the horrific scenes of devastation in flood-hit Germany after she took her daughter to the country for a life-changing operation.
Suzanne Kingston, of Sawbridgeworth, launched a fundraising drive to help pay for an op for 16-year-old daughter Holi to correct a curvature in her spine caused by scoliosis.
With the money raised after the community rallied round, she left with Holi for Germany, but a day after arriving last Monday (July 12), the rain began falling. By Wednesday (July 14) the power went off and there followed "a relentless cloud burst" which Suzanne said went on for two days.
The states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland Palatinate in the west of Germany were devastated by the worst flooding in decades, which saw whole villages destroyed and left more than 160 people dead.
In a message to the Indie Suzanne said: "We ventured onto the street on Wednesday night – portions of the hillside had been washed away and the river was huge and raging. Someone’s house was underwater."
When they went out on Thursday they saw the town was "ruined".
"Apparently the river had exploded down the high street at a depth of about 10 feet," she said. "Cars, bridges and even houses had been washed away.
"Already, though, people were out in force with diggers and tractors, trying to make sense of their flooded homes. Everything was filthy and broken."
Suzanne said the town in North Rhine-Westphalia where they were staying was heavily forested and much of the local industry is woodcutting.
"Wood had been snatched up by the raging water and deposited in great muddy heaps all over the town, adding to the chaos," said Suzanne.
"I saw gaps where pavements had been, trees ripped out of the ground, brick walls that had been lifted whole and carried away."
Suzanne sent a message to the Indie on Tuesday (July 20), when the sun was now out.
"As I sit here I can hear the clearing-up continuing below and helicopters still fly over regularly," she said.
"We're still waiting for drinking water and WiFi but we consider ourselves lucky.
"Our hearts go out to the poor local people who have months, if not years, of work ahead of them."
The family decided to take her to Germany to have it as it was not available on the NHS and was more expensive to have it privately in the UK.
With help from the community, £33,000 was raised to fund the op, but the family were hit with additional coronavirus costs due to the worsening situation both in Germany and the UK.