Oberberg: Emergency chaplain in Erftstadt-Blessem on duty


Pastor Marc Platten spoke to a woman from Erftstadt whose house is right on the edge of the flooded gravel pit in Blessem: “She didn’t know what to do next. Wondered how she should teach her little child all this. “

These are difficult conversations that the Bergneustädter Platten and his colleagues from the emergency pastoral care have been having in the disaster area southwest of Cologne since the beginning of the week. The Oberbergers belong to a large group of emergency chaplains that were created by the state parish in the devastated area. Many people there actually stand in front of the ruins of their existence.

Never experienced a situation like this

Platten is a Protestant pastor in Bergneustadt and has been helping many people in crisis situations as an emergency chaplain since 2006. But he has never been confronted with a situation like the one in Erftstadt. The 46-year-old describes the journey there was already remarkable.

Horst Rau from the Marienhagener parish took him and his colleague Sandra Veith to the disaster area on the emergency pastoral care bus. The closer they got, the more emergency services and piles of bulky waste they saw. Veith positioned himself at the barriers to the residential areas destroyed by the floods, Platten went to a school that had been converted into an emergency center.

Coordination from Oberberg

Sigrid Marx from the Protestant congregation in Hülsenbusch-Kotthausen coordinates the Oberberger’s work. The deaconess only took over the management of the emergency pastoral care on July 1st. The phone in her home office has barely stood still for days. A total of eight Oberbergers have been on site in Erftstadt since last Monday, and another three are driving on Sunday – including Marx himself.

Despite the overwhelming TV images, she is not nervous about the upcoming mission, says Marx: “I want to spread calm in Erftstadt, get a lot of time to talk, signal to people: You are not alone!” which everyone has undergone special training.

Much need to talk

Pastor Platten has seen how open and needy many of those affected are. “The predominant emotion is anger in all of them,” he observed: “People feel that the authorities are inadequately informed. They want to know when and if they can return to their homes at all. “

This uncertainty wears down many. “They report sleepless nights, fears about the future.” Only on Thursday did those responsible allow some of the evacuees to return to their homes – in order to save at least a few personal things within a few minutes.

Talk to people

The job of the emergency chaplain is to listen. You approach people and speak to them. “Because you can tell by looking at many that they are desperate, that they need someone to exchange ideas,” explains Marx. Because all emergency chaplains wear purple jackets, they are easily recognizable. Marx will also wear them when she sets off on Sunday for the less than an hour drive to Erftstadt. The emergency chaplains work there in two shifts, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. After the work is done, she goes home again, to her own four walls.

And who will help the emergency chaplain process the impressions? “Supervision, i.e. discussions in a team, are an important part of our work,” explains Marx: “We have to make sure that we get out of such situations without emotional damage.”


Source: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger by www.ksta.de.

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