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Weekend rain caused severe flooding in parts of Belgium
A holiday weekend filled with thunderstorms and heavy rain resulted in severe flooding in many parts of Flanders and Wallonia.
A code orange was in effect throughout various provinces, meaning intense rainfall, hail storms, strong gusts of wind, and lightning strikes were expected to cause damage or inconvenience on a large scale.
In Wallonia, the heavy rainfall caused flooding in the provinces of Namur and Liège. In Andenne, several roads flooded and houses were affected. Meanwhile, two days after the downpour, fire services in Hannut are still active on the ground. In the town centre, three homes risk collapsing and are undergoing structural investigation.
In the Hainaut town of Ressaix, a lightning strike caused a fire in an apartment building that resulted in the evacuation of 21 residents. The building is temporarily no longer habitable.
Areas of East and West Flanders also experienced flooding due to the heavy rainfall, with the fire brigade carrying out 60 interventions on Monday morning alone. In Flemish Brabant, the municipality of Landen (pictured) also saw heavy rainfall and train traffic disruption. Mudslides occurred and some towns had to call in crisis units.
The fire brigades of the East Flemish Brabant aid zone received some 200 calls for assistance on Sunday afternoon due to the storms, De Morgen reports. The tunnel under the railway in Herent was also flooded.
In some areas in the province of Antwerp, sewer systems overflowed, leading to flooded streets. Limburg saw significant traffic disruptions and the exit from the E313 in the direction of Antwerp to the E314 in the direction of the Netherlands was completely closed due to flooding.
Other exits and interchanges along the E313 and the E314 saw disruptions due to high water and some festivals and events were postponed, including the dance festival Extrema Outdoor Belgium.
More frequent flooding raises insurance concerns
Floods are not new in Belgium, but climate change has increased both their severity and the frequency with which they occur.
As victims tap into their insurance to repair damages to their homes, insurers are urgently requesting a plan to keep premiums affordable in the future.
Not only faced with an increase in floods and other natural disasters, insurance companies are also grappling with spikes in prices for building materials that are taking a toll on the industry.
“Floods are part of the job, but last year, for the first time, we as a sector exceeded the financial ceiling, calculated on the basis of premium contributions, and thus did more than our legal obligation,” Hein Lannoy of Assuralia, the umbrella organisation of insurers, told De Standaard.
Assuralia has been working with federal and regional governments for some time to develop a clear legislative framework that keeps insurance premiums affordable for everyone, hoping to reform the sector.
“These floods should make all those involved - the government, the industry and the policyholders - realise that something urgently needs to be done if we are to avoid premiums becoming too expensive,” said Lannoy.
Photo: Flooding in Landen on 5 June © Belga/Bruno Fahy