AP PHOTOS: Christmas joy found in flooded German valley

MAYSCHOSS, Germany (AP) – Residents of the Ahr Valley, known as Ahrtal in German, try to bring some Christmas cheer to the streets still clogged with mud and flood debris of July which killed nearly 200 people in western Germany.

This week, five months after the floods, a chipboard sign in the largest city, Bad Neuenahr, read: “The Ahrtal lives. Next to it, someone had decorated a tree with balls and lights.

In the village of Mayschoss, higher in the valley known for its vineyards and as a scenic hiking destination, stood a tree with lights powered by makeshift wiring outside a damaged building.

Cool candles crossed the darkness in the nearby town of Altenahr as they burned at the graves of locals who died in the summer disaster.

The majority of flood deaths in Germany occurred in the narrow valley, where heavy rains caused the River Ahr to rapidly fill and overflow, drowning vehicles and crushing buildings.

Residents said at the time that they received few advance warnings of the deadly floodwaters, with some saying authorities’ information was unclear or absent altogether.

The massive economic and emotional costs – the flooding destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of homes – have prompted some residents to consider leaving the area.

But others insisted they stay, rebuild and celebrate when they can.

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