Ulrich van Bebber, the chairman of Lebenshilfe, which has operated the care home since it was built 27 years ago as the first residential home for the disabled in the region, told journalists afterward that “we are all horrified, stunned and infinitely sad.’’

He said those who survived were being cared for. “We want to keep the Lebenshilfe Haus as a residential facility and, if necessary, rebuild it.”

At a nearby shopping center, Kaufland, Mina Sabatschus, 19, was still shaken by what had happened. “I was so shocked and very sad, and I wanted to help, but it’s so sad,’’ she said. “I feel so sad, I don’t even want to think about it.’’

Ms. Sabatschus paused and then said: “People know their family is dying and they can’t do anything.” She paused again. In the face of such tragedy, she said, a touch plaintively, “I decided the best was to help my friends.”

Some of those friends, in Heimersheim and Bad Neuenahr, just a few miles to the west along the Ahr River, lost everything, Ms. Sabatschus said — homes, cars, furniture. “But at least they are alive,” she said. With bridges down, she could not get there to help them, but she will, she vowed.

She has finished school and is working for a time in a supermarket, she said, to earn money before going to university, where she wants to study English and philosophy and then teach.

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