While pumping, clearing and cleaning operations are still underway following the historic flooding in the south of Belgium, the network of Walloon rescue zones (ReZonWal) welcomed support from both Walloon and Flemish rescue forces in the most affected regions, as well as the reinforcement of nearly 300 agents dispatched by neighbouring countries.
The provinces of Liège, Namur and Luxembourg received assistance from six agents from Luxembourg, 100 from Austria, 80 from the Netherlands, 70 from France and 28 from Italy, according to ReZonWal.
Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden called the floods in large parts of Belgium at the end of last week “one of the greatest natural disasters our country has ever known.”
As of Monday 19 July, the severe weather had cost the lives of at least 31 people, with 127 others still “presumed missing or unaccounted for,” according to figures by the National Crisis Centre.
The ReZonWal network warned that it would be catastrophic to not anticipate future disasters, or “dare to adapt crisis management, planning and cooperation systems.”
“Thanks to national and international collaboration, the bad weather could be taken in hand and managed collectively according to the means available,” said the network, which thanks and salutes “the courage of the firefighters of the Walloon rescue zones.”
“The cooperation on the ground between the Flemish zones, the SIAMU [note: Brussels firefighters] and the Walloon zones demonstrated the great solidarity of the firemen,” ReZonWal said, adding that the zones received support from agents from the Civil Protection and the Defence.
The association called for a “strong civil security” to respond to the human distress that’s bound to evolve as rescue operations get underway.
“Sadly, human distress is constantly changing, both in terms of frequency and intensity. This is why it is very important for the emergency services to constantly adapt and improve their means, organisations and structures,” the network said.
ReZonWal is hoping for a “welded” collaboration between the various emergency services.
The Brussels Times