Good luck, after the flood

German village, in 2021 hit by flood, wins €1.4 million

Boudewijn Poelmann will hand over the chairman’s gavel to Sigrid van Aken with effect from March 2020. This will make her the new CEO of the social enterprise Novamedia/Postcode Lotteries.

How bad luck turned into good. In July 2021, Europe was hit by a flood disaster, and the German community Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler was at the centre. More than 100 people lost their lives. Now, exactly six months on, the Monthly Prize from the Deutsche Postcode Lotterie happens to be drawn in the Ahr Valley community.

Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in the Eifel region was among the areas hardest hit by severe storms that have killed at over 100 people in western Germany. A tidal wave of several meters high were sent rushing down the streets, sweeping away cars, sheds, trees and destroying hundreds of homes. The historic centre of the town was littered with debris, and there was mud everywhere, lots and lots of mud.

Good news
Six months later, while the community is still recovering from the disaster, the Deutsche Postcode Lotterie is visiting the municipality. With good news. The Monthly Prize is drawn in the municipality: 319 players win a total of 1,4 million euros. Most lucky winners are Irena and Rita: Lotterie ambassador and famous TV presenter Kai Pflaume presents them cheques of 700,000 euros in total. Irena (52) started playing just last December and wins, thanks to her two tickets, €466,666 in total. 

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 Irena receives 466,666 euros from Lottery ambassador Kai Pflaume

Irena, a mother of two, is close to tears, talking about the strokes of fate over the past few years. Within a few months she lost both parents to Covid, in July 2021 the flood came, which also reached her house: "It was a terrible night. We heard people's cries for help, you don't forget something like that.” Irena was lucky, her apartment on the second floor was spared by the flood. A luck she would like to share with others: "I bought the two tickets mainly because 30 percent goes to a good cause."

Destroyed apartment
Irena's direct neighbour Rita is also delighted with her €233,333 win - which Kai Pflaume gives her in the garden behind the house where she was surprised by the flood six months ago: "My apartment was completely destroyed by the flood. Our belongings, the furniture, personal memories – everything is gone”.

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Winners, charity staff and local politicians at the Monthly Prize meeting

The 64-year-old has been living with her daughter since. In Spring, however, she wants to finally move back into her apartment. Rita hopes that this wish will also soon come true for many other residents of the Ahr Valley: "It is very important for our people to finally have a bit of luck again after everything they have experienced."

Moving interview
Thanks to their postcode another 317 lucky winners share the other half of the €1.4. Among them is Jessica, who was not directly affected by the flood, but whose parents' house and that of her grandparents was destroyed in July. In a moving newspaper interview, the 39-year-old told her story after the disaster.

Now she is in front of a camera again – but for a much happier reason. Thanks to her three tickets she wins €4,881. She accepts the three cheques, accompanied by her father, and is moved to tears: "It was a terrible night back then, for the whole family, the people, the entire region here. I hope that the media and politicians will not forget us. And that even six months after the flood, the people still remember what happened here in July. The Ahr Valley must not be forgotten.”

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Jessica and husband Andreas in front of her parents’ house in July 2021
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Jessica and her father on January 15, 2022

 

Rebuild
The flood in July, but also the lottery win in January will probably stay in people's memories for a long time. Not only to the 319 winners, but also to two local organisations to whom lottery messenger Giuliano Lenz presented cheques.

The STA(H)RK project – students support Ahr children helps children back to normal everyday life after the flood – received a cheque for €30,000. And the Ecumenical Refugee Aid Rhein-Ahr, who supports young people with a refugee background, received €28,800.

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A Postcode Lottery team in the center of the village that has been flooded last Summer