Refugees help Germany's flood victims: "We're giving something back"

Naja Al Hassa, a 30-year-old Syrian, was one of 25 refugees helping clean up the small town of Simbach am Inn after floods ravaged large parts of southern Germany on Wednesday.

"We have received so much help from the people of Simbach am Inn, now we can give something back," Al Hassa said. "That feels good."

Simbach am Inn was one of several Bavarian cities hit hard by torrential downpours and flooding that left six people dead, with rescue teams still searching for at least three missing people.

The refugees said they want to be a part of the community and feel closer to this goal shoveling dirt alongside city residents. "We know what it means to live in a war zone and what it's like to lose your home," Al Hassa said.

Jana Kirchner, whose arcade was completely destroyed by the floods, said she thinks this is the best way for these refugees to integrate. "They can even learn a few words of German in the process," Kirchner said.

Despite being sore and covered from head to toe in mud, the refugees remain in high spirits. Kirchner said the refugees' cheerful mood keeps her spirits up. It's an impressive feat when surveying the damage and work needed to rid the streets of ankle-deep mud.

Meanwhile in the small city of Braunsbach, at least 46 refugees, both men and women, have stepped up to help volunteer staff and residents clean or unload relief supplies, according to council member Danica Goehler.

"We need every helping hand," Simbach am Inn's Mayor Claus Schmid said. "Without volunteers we can't get this done."

The mayor anticipates helpers and residents will need to work into the weekend to get things as close as possible to normal.

Last update: Fri, 03/06/2016 - 17:13
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