Belga

Looting and free hot meals in Belgium’s disaster zone

Accommodation needs to be found for 9,000 people from the Verviers and Pepinster areas of Liege Province that was devastated by the floods.  Many households are without water, gas or electricity.  The Red Cross is to provide hot meals, but in several areas there are also security concerns.

Water company SWDE says 1,650 households are still without running water.  The figure is down from 3,400 on Monday.

Meanwhile the Red Cross is preparing to offer two free hot meals a day to some 10,000 households in the stricken area.  The operation is set to continue for several months. The Red Cross is already running a pilot in Trooz, where 700 meals a day are being distributed.  “People are really asking for the provision of hot meals” Jan Poté of Red Cross Flanders told VRT News.

“Often people return home to find no gas or electricity.  They can’t fix a meal.  We’re really appreciated.”

It’s a gigantic operation that is now being expanded to the entire disaster zone.  It could take months before utilities are restored and kitchens are back in working order.  In many places equipment needs to be replaced. Fortunately the Red Cross can count on the help of numerous volunteers in the area and the generosity of the public at large.  Donations to help the victims of the floods are being accepted on the following bank account number BE70 0000 0000 2525.

The foods triggered a wave of solidarity from all corners of the country, but not everybody has good intentions.  In Esneux (Liege Province) the mayor has asked the army to patrol the streets.  Some individuals have seized the opportunity afforded by the floods to go a-thieving and a-looting.

“We’ve asked the governor to get support from the army as the police are already working at full capacity” says Mayor Iker. 

Several burglaries have been reported and the mayor says people are wandering the streets at night.  The local tourism office has been looted.

In Trooz a curfew has had to be imposed and a private security firm is patrolling the streets.  In Chaudfontaine police caught several thieves red handed.

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