Firefighters in Brussels remove a plaque from the façade of a building in Etterbeek, after it was rendered unstabled by the storm's winds. Credit: Brussels Fire Department
Storm Dennis ripped through Belgium at the weekend, leaving considerable material damage behind and giving no respite to emergency response teams less than a week after storm Ciara.
The fire department worked through the weekend, reporting just before midnight on Sunday that the storm had prompted over two dozen interventions, including for 36 uprooted trees and five flooded roads, including tunnel Georges Henri, east of Parc du Cinquantenaire.
A total of 170 calls concerned objects swept up in the storm’s winds, which at their strongest reached 100 kilometres per hour, following the 120 km/h gusts brought by storm Ciara last weekend.
Rattled by the wind, a large façade plaque on a building in Etterbeek’s Avenue des Gloires Nationales had to be removed by a fire crew, which ascended up to the buildings 19th floor to remove it because it “risked falling off,” spokesperson Walter Derieuw said.
With Belgium placed under yellow alert as the storm passed through, some installations of the Bright Brussels light festival could not be accessed and the Handicap d’Hiver de Bruxelles, a rowing competition set to take place in Brussels’ port, had to be cancelled.
Firefighters in Wallonia reported hundreds of interventions due to the storm.
“The operations concern for the most part electrical cables on the ground or fallen trees blocking a road,” a spokesperson for the Western Hainaut fire department told Belga news agency.
Fire crews in the NAGE (Namur, Ardennes, Gembloux, Eghezée) zone were called more than 200 times on Sunday alone, while crews around the cities of Dinant, Charleroi or Philippeville carried out between 60 to 100 interventions, with the area around Wavre reporting considerable material damage.
Donc le palais des congrès à Liège a perdu des lettres à cause de la tempête d’aujourd’hui? Et c’est devenu le palais des con
In Liège, the storm’s winds knocked a few choice letters off of the sign above the city’s Palais des Congrès events venue, which on Monday awoke rebaptised “Palais des con,” offering passers-by a chuckle over the crude meaning of the French term “con.”
The incident topped an already full plate for local fire teams, who reported being “overwhelmed” under a stream of calls mainly over roads blocked by fallen branches, ripped out cables, collapsed trees, or loose roof tiles or other objects.
Fire crews in Flanders were equally busy, with departments in the region’s different zones each reporting hundreds of interventions.
In Antwerp, the fire department reported no fewer than 200 calls to its services on Sunday, the day when the gusts of wind were at their strongest.
The calls concerned mainly damages to roofs in a number of properties as well as publicity signs loosened by the wind.
In Ghent, an emergency intervention was required after the glass parapet around a balcony on a 26-floor of an apartment building became unstable, with firefighters setting up a security perimeter during the intervention.
The situation, which was one of the more than 230 calls made to the local fire crews, was brought under control by around 8:00 PM on Sunday, Le Soir reports.
In West Flanders, the fire department received over 300 calls since Saturday, while the department in Limburg processed around 80 emergency calls, including two over roofs ripped out by the wind.
No injuries were reported in Belgium as a result of the storm’s passing.
Two people in Europe died during the storm, including a 19-year-old driver in the Netherlands and a man in Britain who fell into a river.