Mayors say that investments made are insufficient to cope with such extreme weather
The clean-up operation has begun after yesterday’s flooding. There is still plenty to be done in the worst-affected areas such as Landen (Flemish Brabant) and Gingelom (Limburg Province).
The two municipalities’ mayors say that that a lot has already been invested in water management infrastructure. However, this is of little help when so much rain falls in such a short space of time, as was the case on Sunday.
While there were issues with flooding in several areas of Liège and Namur provinces in Wallonia, the Flemish Brabant town of Landen and the Limburg municipality of Gingelom were the places worst affected by the flooding.
The Mayor of Gingelom Patrick Lismont (socialist) told VRT News that he believes that the clean-up operation after the flooding will continue for the rest of the week.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Landen Gino Debroux (socialist) told the VRT that there is a lot of flood damage in his town. “Basements have been flooded, but there was also water in the houses themselves, furniture has been damaged, some electrical appliances too. A lot of people are suffering at the moment."
Speaking about the situation in Gingelom Mr Lismont say "People tell me they've never seen anything like this here before. There was very heavy rainfall for about an hour and a half, we are talking about 70 l/m²."
Gingelom often suffers from issues with flooding after heavy rainfall. However, Mayor Lismont is keen to stress that the municipality has been investing in work to improve water management for more than 20 years. "But with such intense rainfall you can do whatever you want, but you won’t be able stop the water."
“Now the retarding basins designed to prevent flooding are full and they also overflowed during the night. This morning around 5 o'clock I received a phone call from the Sint-Truiden Fire Service that in a part of Sint-Truiden, downstream of Gingelom, the water level had started to rise due to the overflowing retarding basins. There will be a disaster if yesterday’s rainfall is repeated today”, Mr Lismont said.
He feels powerless when confronted with extreme rainfall. "Every year we make investments in water management projects. That is something that is ongoing. Yesterday too there were water management people here and we are again looking at what we can do here at this location. We will have to take further measures to address this, but we can do no more than that."
The Mayor of Gino Debroux tells us the same story. Landen was badly flooded 20 years ago and since then a lot of investments have been made in flood defences.
His city was also severely affected by flooding 20 years ago. "We have already made a lot of investments in recent years, built storage basins and dykes, but the weather is becoming more extreme and as such these measures will prove to be insufficient. However, without the measures things would have been much worse. "