Belgium’s federal government decided that Tuesday 20 July will be a national day of mourning the victims of the severe weather in recent days, announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during a press conference on Friday.
“Our country is going through very difficult moments,” said De Croo. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. The whole country sympathises with them.”
“What should have been beautiful summer days have suddenly become dark, pitch-black days for many of our compatriots,” he added.
The final balance still has to be made up, but this could “possibly be the worst floods that ever happened in Belgium.”
Tuesday 20 July will be a day of national mourning, and the celebrations for Belgium’s National Day on 21 July will still take place, but in a very limited capacity.
The absolute priority now is rescue work, according to De Croo.
“All possible resources have been mobilised. Given the scale of the disaster, the federal phase of the emergency plan has been declared,” he said. “The situation remains critical in many places.”
Like his colleagues, Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo also expressed his sympathy, saying that “our aim and our only concern is to help the victims and get them out of their conditions.”
Several support measures have been taken in Wallonia, including financial aid to the flood victims and a budget for the clean-up, according to him.
Additionally, Di Rupo advised people, once they get back to their homes, to take photos before moving anything, and not to throw away anything, so that experts can properly assess the damage.
According to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, it is “obvious that this gigantic flood should officially be recognised as a disaster.”
“However, it still has to be determined which municipalities fall within the disaster area. I have asked that the procedure be accelerated,” he said.
“Anyone who has suffered damage must register with the disaster fund as soon as possible,” Jambon said. “Those who are entitled to compensation will also receive it quickly. But those affected must also submit a dossier to their insurance company.”
Additionally, he called on all insurance companies to give priority to the cases linked to the storms. “I will make sure that the people affected get what they need.”