“All gone. Scary, Unimaginable” – European Flood July 2021


Summary

  • At least 42 people have died and many more are missing after severe floods in western Germany
  • Another six are dead in Belgium, and the Netherlands has also been badly affected
  • The Belgian city of Liège has urged all residents to leave
  • Major rivers have burst their banks after record rainfall
  • The head of Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the worst affected regions, said many people were still in danger
  • Schools are closed and transport links have been severely disrupted throughout the west of Germany
  • A state of emergency has been declared in the district of Schuld bei Adenau, in the mountainous Eifel region, German media say

German survivors in the areas hit by deadly flooding have been speaking out about their experiences. In the town of Schuld, North Rhine-Westphalia, some homes were reduced to rubble in the deluge.

The ongoing flooding is principally taking place primarily in Wallonia (Liège Province) and in the Eifel -Region in western Germany that began on 14 July 2021

“It was catastrophic,” Edgar Gillessen, 65, told Reuters news agency.

“All these people living here, I know them all. I feel so sorry for them, they’ve lost everything. A friend had a workshop over there, nothing standing, the bakery, the butcher, it’s all gone. It’s scary. Unimaginable.”

With many people trapped in their homes and dozens of others still missing, emergency services in Germany are continuing to carry out rescue operations.

German survivors in the areas hit by deadly flooding have been speaking out about their experiences. In the town of Schuld, North Rhine-Westphalia, some homes were reduced to rubble in the deluge.

The ongoing flooding is principally taking place primarily in Wallonia (Liège Province) and in the Eifel -Region in western Germany that began on 14 July 2021

“It was catastrophic,” Edgar Gillessen, 65, told Reuters news agency.

“All these people living here, I know them all. I feel so sorry for them, they’ve lost everything. A friend had a workshop over there, nothing standing, the bakery, the butcher, it’s all gone. It’s scary. Unimaginable.”

With many people trapped in their homes and dozens of others still missing, emergency services in Germany are continuing to carry out rescue operations.

In the Ehrang area of the city of Trier, where this video of firefighters helping stranded residents was taken, authorities successfully evacuated a local hospital. But rescue efforts in some of the worst-hit areas may take longer.

This afternoon, local authorities announced a three-phase evacuation of residents still trapped in the municipality of Swisstal, beginning with helicopters and then using boats and eventually vehicles as the waters recede.

Those due to be evacuated have been told to prepare to spend up to four days in temporary accomodation and to bring only essential items with them.

Damaged homes in Schuld, Germany, after flash floods brought death and destruction. Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/EPA

German army joins rescue operations

Around 500 soldiers have been deployed to help the two worst-affected states, Germany’s defence ministry announced on Thursday. “Today we think of all those who have been affected by the storms and flooding,” Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

EU and UK among those to offer help

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says many countries have offered support to those impacted by the deadly flooding.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union was “ready to help”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also offered UK support for rescue and recovery efforts, describing the flooding as “devastating”.

Netherlands also seeing flooding

Some southern parts of the Netherlands are already experiencing flooding, with further weather warnings issued.

The province of Limburg saw heavy rain overnight, with more than 400 homes left without electricity and major roads forced to close.

Caravans and tents at the De Hatenboer campsite in Roermond were pictured underwater on Thursday with emergency services having to intervene to help evacuate guests.

The Maas river is expected to hit a record high water level on Thursday, officials told local media, with some residents told to evacuate their homes.

A Dutch cabinet meeting will take place later to discuss the flooding.

42 People have lost their lives in flooding in Germany,

Here’s what’s happening in Belgium

Earlier we brought you the news there is an evacuation order in place in Liège. Here’s what else has happened in Belgium:

At least six people have died, including a 15-year-old girl who was swept away by floodwater

Rising waters are threatening to cut off the small city of Valkenburg, west of Maastricht

Conditions are so bad in the municipality of Trooz evacuation efforts have been halted

The Infrabel rail network has suspended services to the south of the country

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called the situation “unprecedented”

More rain is expected on Thursday

People wade through water in Liege

Merkel mourns those lost in catastrophe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a statement at the German ambassador’s residence in Washington. Angela Merkel, who is on a visit to Washington DC  reacted to the deadly flooding. She offered her condolences  “Here in Washington, my thoughts are also always with the people in our homeland,” she said, offering her condolences to the dead.

“We don’t know the number yet, but there will be many – some in the basement of their houses, some as firefighters trying to get others to safety,” Die Welt quoted her as saying. “And I extend my heartfelt condolences to their relatives. Everything will be done to find the people who are still missing.”

The German chancellor said she was in close contact with the German interior and finance ministers about the support the federal government can provide.

Authorities in Rhineland-Palatinate, one of two German states badly affected by the flooding, have released a photo taken yesterday that shows the extent of the flooding in the village of Altenburg.”It’s a catastrophe,” the state’s president Malu Dreyer said of the situation in Rhineland-Palatinate.

“There are people dead, missing, and many who are still in danger. All emergency services are on duty around the clock and risking their own lives.”

German politicians and climate experts have been linking flooding in parts of Europe to climate change.

It is the kind of extreme weather event you would expect to see in a heating climate, they say.

Just last month, North America experienced its warmest June on record, according to the EU’s Earth observation programme, while Europe recorded its second warmest June on record.

Climate experts say the findings point to a frightening escalation in temperature extremes.

“We are getting used to record high temperatures being recorded somewhere around the world every year now,” says Prof Peter Stott of the UK Met Office.

These are the worst floods to hit this part of western Germany in living memory.

Buildings collapsed and cars were swept away, as roads turned into raging rivers. Entire villages were evacuated. But some places were cut off, with dozens of people trapped on the roofs of their houses waiting for rescue.

Some 200,000 homes have lost electricity. And across Germany traffic and rail transport is heavily disrupted.

Over the past 24 hours this densely populated region saw record levels of rainfall. The heavy rain came after an unusually stormy summer, causing rivers to burst their banks. The rain has eased off here for now. But with so many missing, it’s also still an emergency situation.

More rain is expected in southern Germany later: with rivers at dangerously high levels, other regions are preparing for the worst.

Residents were seen cleaning up damage

Residents of the German town of Mayen, 40km (20 miles) south of the hardest-hit district of Arhweiler, have been expressing shock at the flash flooding impacting the region.

Annemarie Mueller, 65, told the AFP news agency that “nobody was expecting this” and spoke of fears floodwaters would break the door to her property down overnight.

Although the damage in Mayen was not as heavy as elsewhere, the small river that runs through the town broke its bank overnight and has flooded some local residences.

Another woman, Andrea Schaer, said she and other residents in her apartment building had to work together at about 02:00 local time (01:00 BST) to try and save a property on the ground floor.

“It happened quickly, in 20 minutes the whole cellar was full, so I was a bit scared,” she told AFP.

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