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Impulse #7: The wave of solidarity

30 July 2021

I have to admit – for today's article I actually had another topic in mind that I wanted to address to you, dear readers. But for a few days now, everything has been different, and so there can only be one topic for me today: the storms and the flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. Please forgive me for making this editorial a bit shorter than usual and for deviating thematically from the usual specialist topics.

My sympathy goes out to all the people affected by the flood disaster. As ENGIE Deutschland, we will help wherever and however we can.

In response to the catastrophic floods

Probably few of you know that I grew up in the immediate vicinity of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler and still live there with my family today. Employees of ENGIE Deutschland in the district and in the other flooded areas are also affected by the flood disaster. Personally, I was very lucky because our house was spared from the floods due to its hillside location. But seeing my hometown being destroyed by the floods and many family members and acquaintances losing all their belongings is very upsetting to me. My thoughts and my heart are with all those affected and I try to help and support where I can.

How dramatic the situation is on the ground is hard for me to put into words, and it cannot be conveyed by any photo or video. When you witness people desperately trying to contact their loved ones, when you hear the stories of how parents and grandparents were caught in the water while they slept, when you have to realize that your home will be a wasteland for an indefinite period of time - this is not comprehensible with the mind or emotionally. Large parts of the infrastructure are destroyed, there is still a shortage of gas and in some cases also water and electricity. In short, it is a huge catastrophe that I - and probably you as well - could not have imagined on this scale. And yet it is important to be prepared for the fact that similar situations may multiply as a result of climate change, according to the unanimous opinion of experts. I would like to make one thing clear: If there has ever been any occasion to address and identify with the issues of climate neutrality and zero-carbon strategy, that is now.

Providing help is a social duty

At present, the focus is on cleaning up and repairing the damage in the affected areas. The helpfulness that I experience is phenomenal. Solidarity is huge – it touches me, and that is an important sign of hope. I would like to thank the many helpers: those who have been working tirelessly for days and, of course, those who support those affected with generous donations! Of course, we at ENGIE Deutschland as a company based in Cologne also see it as our social duty to help in this situation. Many of our service technicians have been working for affected colleagues and their families since last week. In addition, our teams are supporting customers in Wuppertal, Aachen and Erftstadt to repair flood damage. All employees who are either affected themselves or want to help relatives and acquaintances in the disaster areas receive paid special leave. And as ENGIE Deutschland we donated 250,000 euros to "Aktion Deutschland Hilft". I hope that this will help us pave the way back to a normal life a little bit.

Building a future together

The full extent of the damage is still not assessable. However, it is definitely foreseeable that it will take many months to eliminate them. For this reason, we from ENGIE Deutschland sent a letter this week to Malu Dreyer, Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, and to Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, in order to offer our support in the reconstruction of technical infrastructure – especially in schools and other public buildings. Of course, we will continue to work with our teams for our colleagues and customers wherever we are needed. If you have any questions or a personal request, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Dear readers: With these words I say goodbye before a brief summer break. My next article will be published at the end of September. Until then, stay optimistic, continue to stay healthy - and hopefully enjoy beautiful summer days as well.

warmest regards

Your Manfred Schmitz
CEO ENGIE Deutschland

Our Expert

Manfred Schmitz
Once a month, Manfred Schmitz, CEO of ENGIE Deutschland, shares his view on current topics in our column Impulse.

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