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Germany flood victims distraught as the clean-up begins

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By Euronews
Blessem, Germany - Aerial of destroyed buildings
Blessem, Germany - Aerial of destroyed buildings   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Distraught victims of Germany's deadly floods have been returning to their homes to begin the clean-up effort. 

In Erftstadt-Blessem, south of Cologne, some of the town's 50,000 residents have lost everything in last week's disaster. 

"Upstairs, everything is free of the mess, but there is no water, no electricity," said Susanne Dunke. "And all the mud here [downstairs] has to be removed, all the kitchen has to be taken out. It's so bad, so sad."

The death toll from Germany's floods stands at 177, with dozens still missing. In neighbouring Belgium, at least 31 were killed. 

It will be weeks before electricity, water, and sewerage are restored. Many do not know if their homes can be rebuilt.

In Heinz Berger's house, floodwaters rose to around two metres, destroying much of what he owned. All he can do is go through his belongings, rescuing what little he can and discarding the rest. 

"There's nothing left, empty, the memories are gone, nothing left," said Heinz, "Everything is gone."

Brigitte Berger wept as she emptied entire cupboards full of possessions, from household goods to cherished mementoes.

“We’re empty,” she said. “The memories are gone. There’s nothing.”