The images of the terrible damage caused by heavy rains across Europe in recent days have covered the country and the world’s media.
But all is not bad news, and the disaster has sparked an explosion of solidarity from all over Belgium, in particular those parts that were not too badly affected themselves.
Here’s a sample of the actions undertaken by ordinary people. And later, some ways you can help out yourself.
Many of the actions are similar and evident: collection of donations of clothing, dry and canned food, bedding, water, backpacks for people who have been left with nothing, not even dry shoes.
In Gentbrugge in East Flanders, donations are piling up in a friendly Carrefour Market shop, workplace of organiser Ellen.
“It really made me emotional,” she told the VRT. “I immediately asked my manager at the Carrefour Market, where I work, if we couldn’t do a collection campaign here. She totally saw that.” Ellen posted an ad on Facebook and it was shared hundreds of times in no time.
Meanwhile the city of Ghent has opened an official crowdfunding, with the promise that the city will make its own contribution as well.
The rains washed away many camp grounds just as young people were beginning their summer holidays. Now the Flemish agency for nature and woodland ANB has offered its land as a replacement. Organisations affected should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, to replace tents and camping material washed away or rendered useless, organisers should contact ULDK.email@example.com.
Finally, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted on Twitter to announce the company would be offering aid to victims of the flooding in Germany, Belgium and western Europe. No details were given.
Our hearts are with all those affected by the devastating flooding across Germany, Belgium and Western Europe. Apple will be donating to support relief efforts.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) July 16, 2021
Brussels was the least affected by the storms, but that doesn’t mean its response is any less charitable.
The Brussels Hotel Association has made more than 1,000 hotel rooms available to offer people accommodation if necessary. Funds have been made available in the budget to make this reception possible;
The public transport authority STIB has made heavy equipment available to rescue workers, including a heavy mobile crane, and trucks with a crane and a trailer. It has also offered a dozen buses to transport people from the affected areas to Brussels.
The Brussels fire brigade has sent personnel and equipment to the provinces of Liège, Luxembourg and Flemish Brabant: seven firefighters with vehicles and pump equipment were sent to the Flemish Brabant-East rescue zone and 16 firefighters and vehicles (including two car pumps) were sent to the Liège rescue zone;
Water authority Vivaqua is in contact with its Walloon counterparts and is ready to send reinforcements and distribute water bottles, among other things.
Brussels Prevention & Safety has made drones available for searches or to measure damage;
The Joint Community Commission has offered to open its vaccination centre at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital this weekend so that people who have missed their vaccine as a result of the floods can still be vaccinated. Anyone who wishes can make an appointment at the contact centre at no. 02/214.19.19.
“All members of the Brussels Government express their support for the people affected, and our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” the region said in a statement.
“The Brussels Government also expresses its appreciation for the enormous wave of solidarity and the commitment of citizens throughout the country and in the Brussels Region. It remains at the disposal of the Federal Crisis Center, but also of the affected regions themselves, to provide assistance where it is needed.
How you can help
The official organisation of aid to those affected by the floods is being carried out by the Red Cross, and they have set up an account number for donations of cash.
“Through the account number BE70 0000 0000 2525, donations can now be made that will be used to provide concrete aid to those affected by the disaster,” said the Red Cross. The organisation itself will determine which projects receive funding.
Aside from their regular volunteers, they could also use extra hands to help out. Find out more details at www.rodekruis.be/helpenhelpt/
The Red Cross appeal, including account details, is also being broadcast by the majority of Flemish media in donated ad spots.
In Brussels, the Red Cross will pick up donations from collection centres in several communes:
Evere: contact the local section of the Red Cross.
Jette: donations of goods accepted at the town hall from Monday 08.30-13.00.
Laeken: Daniel’s Taverne, Ave Houba Destrooper 684, until this evening.
Anderlecht: the Salle Simonet, Ave Theo Verbeeck 10: today, Sunday and Monday from 09.00-14.00
Saint-Josse: Rue Brialmont 23 until 17.00.
Watermael-Boitsfort: Place Keym.
Uccle: Ave Dolez 4 until 18.00.
Ixelles: Ave Louise 331, office of real estate agents Gestea, today until 16.00.
Haren: Stadium of Sporting Haren, Rue du Hall des Sports 21, next week Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10.00-12.00 and 17.00-20.00; Friday 17.00-20.00 only.
Molenbeek: Rue Bara in Anderlecht, from where volunteers will drive to Liege.
Finally, the website Aidehulp14-7.com offers a channel where those offering help can meet with people requiring help. There is also a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/407437053978690.