German central bank inundated with money damaged in floods

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s central bank says it has been inundated with more than 50 million euros’ ($59 million) worth of damaged bank notes after deadly floods that hit part of the country in July.

The Bundesbank said Wednesday that individuals and banks have handed in notes that were soaked in the floods and often also contaminated with oil, sewage or mud. The damaged money is dried, processed and then destroyed at a center in Mainz that analyzes forged and damaged money, and its owners are refunded without charge.

The bank said that the center usually receives damaged bills to the tune of 40 million euros per year. This year, it received 51 million euros’ worth of notes from the flood-hit areas in western Germany between mid-July and the end of August. Germans still tend to use cash more than people in many other European countries.

After they are dried, the damaged notes are flattened out, verified and counted. The Bundesbank said it bought dryers to deal with the influx of dirty money, noting that it’s important to process soaked notes quickly before they clump together and becomes as hard as concrete.

More than 180 people died in Germany and hundreds more were injured in the July 14-15 floods, which also claimed lives in neighboring Belgium. Heavy rainfall turned small streams into raging torrents, sweeping away houses, bridges and cars.

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