The Walloon government has warned that vigilance is needed this weekend because of weather forecasts predicting potentially intense and stormy rainfall, according to an announcement from the Directorate-General for Waterways.
“The Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) announced new rainfall expectations for the 24th and 25th of July,” the Directorate-General said on the official website.
“This rainfall could be intense and accompanied by thunderstorms. There could be runoff, saturation of sewage systems and overflowing of small rivers.”
Forecasts are expected to be refined over the next 24 hours, and the Directorate-General emphasised that vigilance is particularly important because of the lingering damage from the massive, historic flooding that occurred last week.
“As far as the larger rivers are concerned, the amounts forecast so far should not be sufficient to cause flooding; however, the greatest vigilance is required,” said the Directorate-General.
“The presence of blockades, destruction of banks and protection walls, etc. could cause localised overflows in unusual places and at unusual heights.”
The warning comes just after an investigation by Het Laatste Nieuws revealed that the Belgian authorities received 25 warnings of severe weather on the way ahead of the historic floods, yet appears to have done nothing until the last minute.
Ahead of this weekend’s expected rainfall, the Directorate-General for Waterways promises transparency.
“Several water level measuring devices were damaged by the flood. We are doing our utmost to repair them as soon as possible,” the announcement reads.
“In the interests of transparency, we will continue to provide flow data (m3/s) as far as possible, although the optimum quality of this data cannot be guaranteed. In the most affected areas, the riverbeds have been significantly altered and the equation used to calculate the flows based on the measured heights must be completely recalibrated. This will take several months.”
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.”
The official death toll in Belgium has risen to 37, according to the latest figures from the National Crisis Centre.
While many of the 473 missing people reported last week have now been accounted for, six people currently remain without a trace.
In addition to the loss of human life, the flooding has devastated industry and economics, from wine growers to farmers, whose crops were drowned after fields remained under water days after the initial rainfall.
Rail service in Wallonia remains disrupted, and repairs to the railway network are expected to take all summer.
For people who want to help, the easiest way is to make a donation to the Red Cross account number on BE70 0000 0000 2525.
People who want to help as a volunteer are asked to register on the Red Cross crisis volunteer platform, and not simply travel to the affected areas on their own initiative.