Days of heavy rains have triggered major floods across parts of the Netherlands, with the southern Limburg province declared a disaster area as police, firefighters and even soldiers help thousands of residents to find shelter.
A number of towns and villages along the Meuse and Rur rivers in Limburg were advised to evacuate on Thursday, after water levels reached record highs following the downpour, Reuters reported. The national government deemed the province a disaster zone late on Thursday night, invoking a law which allows victims to be compensated for losses sustained during the floods.
The town of Valkenburg has been among the hardest-hit, with Mayor Daan Prevoo noting that a “river” is flowing through the city “that does not belong there.”
Footage captured in Valkenburg showed just that, with massive quantities of murky water seen surging through its streets.
Valkenburg in the south of the Netherlands is flooded. https://t.co/n3Y15wUbOJ
Scores of soldiers have arrived in the town to assist relief workers with the evacuation efforts, helping residents find shelter at emergency centers or with friends and family, local media reported. One nursing home was fully evacuated, while around 400 homes in the city remain without power due to the floods, with grid operator Enexis saying it will not be able to bring them back online for some time.
Mayor Prevoo also warned of possible food shortages, as trucks that transport goods are largely unable to enter the city.
“We still have 375 homes that have no electricity, so no working refrigerator because they are under water. Those people have no food. The hotels are full of evacuees, but supplies cannot reach Valkenburg because of the water,” he said.
Maastricht, Limburg’s provincial capital, is also expected to be inundated with floodwaters, with local authorities warning the town could be partially underwater by Friday night. Some 10,000 residents were evacuated in anticipation.
The Maas river in #Maastricht is flooding after all the rain from yesterday. Apparently is not at it highest level since we expect more rain for today. pic.twitter.com/VnpwFkKvex
This whole area in Maastricht is getting evacuated because they expect it to get flooded tonight. About 10.000 inhabitants. This also includes the hospital and the university. pic.twitter.com/2FWx8HEl4C
Also located near the Meuse river, images captured in Maastricht showed rapidly rising waters.
Current flooding situation in Maastricht Limburg from the bridge in city center… #maastricht#limburg#floods#floodingpic.twitter.com/oVnDpMRrAv
Water still rising in Maastricht, at least until midnight. It is terrible.🍀 pic.twitter.com/cDaq5n6744
Another Dutch city, Roermond, also ordered its residents to evacuate, prompting several hundred people to leave their homes. Police reportedly traveled neighborhood-to-neighborhood to warn of the incoming floods.
06.00, politie toetert mensen wakker net onder de Hambeek in #Roermond om te waarschuwen voor overstromingen pic.twitter.com/o5XokkbtSO
Other European nations have also seen serious flooding in recent days, with Germany bearing the brunt of the inclement weather. At least 59 deaths have been reported in the country, in addition to around 1,300 still missing. In Belgium, nine were killed as a result of the floods, according to local media, while a nuclear power plant in the village of Tihange was placed on high alert as waters in the nearby Meuse continued to rise.
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