July 28, 2021

dramatic situation in Wallonia after heavy rainfall

Subject, like the neighboring regions of Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, to incessant rains for several days, Wallonia was in a chaotic situation, Thursday, July 15. At midday, a provisional assessment evoked the death of six people. Railways at a standstill, roads cut, houses collapsed under the power of the currents, cars and animals carried away, a broken down mobile telephone network, damaged drinking water pipes: torrential rains triggered a plan to national alert.

Read also Heavy flooding in Germany and Belgium, at least 51 dead and many missing

The authorities also called on the European Union and its alert mechanism for help. France quickly sent around forty firefighters and a helicopter with an aquatic research crew to Belgium. This was to facilitate evacuations made impossible because of the power of the waves in various places. Boats of the firefighters and the Belgian army had tried, in vain, to reach certain areas and turned around.

Unheard of since 1926: the city of Liège, Wallonia’s second largest metropolis, invited thousands of residents of the Meuse, the river that crosses the city, to leave their homes at the start of the afternoon: water, which had already engulfed the banks had to rise another 1.5 meters according to forecasters. As of Wednesday, falls of 100 liters of water per square meter had been recorded in the province. A dam usually regulating the flow in Liège had become inoperative and certain districts of the city were directly threatened, for the first time in nearly a century.

Emergency funds released in three provinces

Other localities, such as Spa, Chaudfontaine (where the head of state, King Philippe went on Thursday) and Verviers, where four bodies were found Thursday noon, were heavily affected by the rising waters. A dozen rivers and their tributaries have risen from their beds. In Eupen, in the German-speaking region, a dam had to release part of its contents, its retention capacity having been exceeded, which resulted in the evacuation of several localities. The operation was deemed essential, even if the water obviously had to supply already flooded areas.

A woman reunites with her child after rescuers evacuated her flooded house in Hognoul, on the outskirts of Liège, on July 15, 2021.

Emergency measures have also been decreed in the provinces of Namur, Luxembourg and Hainaut. The regional government decided, Thursday afternoon, to grant emergency funds to the governors of these three provinces and to the affected municipalities. Less affected, the Flemish region however noted damage in Limburg and Brabant.

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