Catholic Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, said he sees a glimmer of hope in the countless people who selflessly offered help to affected communities and individuals.
Some 70 people are still missing after torrents of water ripped through entire towns and villages, destroying bridges, roads, railways and swathes of housing.
Germany's national railway operator Deutsch Bahn said it will take months, if not years to restore everything, and is confident of repairing 80 per cent of damaged infrastructure by end of the year.
Across Germany at least 174 people died in the floods, and 31 deaths were reported from neighboring Belgium, taking the total toll to 205.
'I hope it will be a matter of days,' Chancellor Angela Merkel said, noting that she had met local victims 'left with nothing but the clothes on their backs'.
Merkel toured Schuld, a village on a tight curve of the Ahr River in western Germany where many buildings were damaged or destroyed by rapidly rising floodwaters on Wednesday night.
Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 60 people had died there, including at least nine residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities.
Relentless rains through the night worsened the flooding conditions in eastern Belgium, where one person was reported drowned and at least another was missing.