In Altenahr in western Germany, even the dead were not spared in this week’s devastating flood. The village cemetery was swept away, headstones damaged and toppled by the force of the muddy water.
Antoinnette Steinhoff stands at the edge of the flooded graveyard, crushed by the sight of destruction in front of her. “My mother is over there,” she says, pointing at a black marble grave with a cross on top.
When the flooding hit the village, the 76-year-old saw an entire house dragged away by the water. Two people were still inside, Steinhoff said “They found one of the bodies up in the vineyard,” she added.
Much of Altenahr lies in ruin now. Restaurants dotted around the river banks have been destroyed and entire chunks of buildings torn away. In some areas, the water mark reaches halfway through the second floor.
The streets, or what remains of them, are buried under mud, cars wedged between collapsed buildings and piles of debris.
It’s a sight seen across large swaths of western Europe following the catastrophi