Share article:
Share article:

Belgium in Brief: What If The Dyke Breaks?

Credit: Belga

After the heavy rainfall and floods caused major destructions in the Francophone part of the country, the water level of the Meuse river in Flanders has now also risen to the point that the dyke may break.

Six Flemish municipalities along the river were already evacuated on Thursday evening, but in Maaseik, the worst is predicted to happen in the afternoon today.

“Experts expect the water to keep rising until noon. We, therefore, ask you to stay away from Maaseik,” said mayor Johan Tollenaere. “Do not come shopping, do not come to work (telework if possible), do not visit.”

“It is going to be a few scary hours,” he said.

A lot is hinging on the Monsin dam, just above the particularly hard-hit city of Liège.

If that dam fails, a mass of extra water will come from Liège into Limburg, turning the already critical situation into “a disaster” for parts of Limburg, according to provincial governor Jos Lantmeeters.

With only two of the six sluice gates working, the worst-case scenario is unfortunately not unthinkable. “As long as all the problems in Liège are not resolved, we do not know whether that lock will hold,” he said.

In the meantime, the river has already started flowing over the dyke, with reports of water even coming up from the ground.

“We probably will not know until tomorrow morning whether we have made it,” said Lantmeeters.

What do you think? Let @johnstonjules know. Or @maithechini, since she wrote it today.

BUT WAIT, one last thing: Want news from The Brussels Times in your inbox every morning? Sign up for The Recap, a free daily newsletter containing all the stories you need to know from the day before. It goes great with your morning coffee. 

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:



1. Belgium turns fully orange on European travel map again

All of Belgium is now an orange zone again, following the latest update of the travel map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Thursday. Read more.

2. Damage severe weather: At least 14 dead, four missing and thousands without electricity

Heavy rainfall which resulted in flooding has wreaked havoc across many parts of Belgium, and as the weather has calmed down, the damage it has left behind has become even more clear. Read More.

3. ‘Stay away from Maaseik’ as dyke threatens to break, mayor warns

As experts are expecting that the water level of the Meuse river will continue to rise until noon and the water has started flowing over the dyke, the mayor of Maaseik in the Limburg province urged people to stay away. Read More.

4. Tap water in some Walloon municipalities now undrinkable

The heavy flooding of the last two days has had an effect on the water distribution networks in Wallonia, resulting in several municipalities being left without drinkable tap water. Read more.

5. A more spacious Midi fair opens in Brussels on Saturday

The 140th Foire du Midi will officially open on Saturday on the Boulevard du Midi in Brussels, bringing rides and food back to the area after skipping a year. Read more.

6. Coastal towns will carry out strict ID checks to avoid trouble

The coastal municipalities of Blankenberge and Ostend will carry out strict identity checks this summer, to avoid the kind of trouble that marred the season last year. Read more.

7. Revealed: Rubens used stock portraits to populate his paintings

The Antwerp-based painter Peter Paul Rubens used a collection of stock faces to portray the anonymous characters in his large, dramatic paintings, new research has revealed. Read more.