‘Passed through the eye of the needle’: worst is over in Maaseik, says mayor
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‘Passed through the eye of the needle’: worst is over in Maaseik, says mayor

The situation in Maaseik, Limburg. Credit: Belga

Just like the Dutch city of Maastricht, the situation in Maaseik in the province of Limburg has stabilised and the water level of the Meuse river is lowering slowly, according to mayor Johan Tollenaere.

The works to raise and strengthen the dyke wall in the area of Heppeneert have ended, and the water level is dropping very slowly as the dyke is holding.

“I dare say we have escaped the worst. I am hopeful that we will get out of this. We have really passed through the eye of the needle,” Tollenaere said on Flemish radio on Friday afternoon.

“Around noon, the security services told me that if the water rose another five centimetres, it would be lost,” he said. “The situation has been very critical.”

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Still, Tollenaere called on residents and locals to remain cautious, as the water is only receding very slowly in places like Heppeneert, at the critical point of the dyke.

“The fire brigade is saying [that the water recedes] about one centimetre per hour. The most critical part will be over, but it is too early to celebrate because there is still a lot of water coming in,” he added.

Additionally, the water level remains very high water, and Maaseik’s banks and dykes were ravaged.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely, and a lot of security services and the army remain present to assist us in case of a possible flood/damage breach,” said Tollenaere.

According to Tollenaere, no houses have been flooded in Maaseik, and he is not aware of any major damage, but that does not mean the situation is under control. Residents who left the area or were evacuated from their houses cannot yet return to their homes.