On Wednesday, storms brought about torrential rain, which in turn has wreaked havoc in western Europe. The water has seen dozens of people lose their lives and others stranded on rooftops. Among the countries that the incident has hard hit are Germany and Belgium. In Germany, the authorities have already declared it an emergency, seeing that the floods have led to the death of at least 33 people. Several buildings have also collapsed, and multiple cars swept away.
Following the incident, the authorities have deployed resources towards rescuing those stranded amidst the flood. In response, the German army deployed 200 soldiers for the rescue operation. However, the extent of the destruction is still unclear, given that access to villages and roadways has been disrupted. In Belgium, the Vesdre river broke its banks, rendering some people dead and property destroyed. According to local media, four people lost their lives in eastern Verviers.
In anticipation, authorities in the Rhine-Sieg County ordered the evacuation of several villages due to the fear that a nearby dam could break. In the western county of Euskirchen, rescue operations were hampered following the disruption of phone and internet connections in some parts of the region.
Determining the Root Cause
According to weather experts, the floods were caused by a near-stationary low-pressure weather system. France has also been on the receiving end of the downpour, as well as London and Southern England.
The heavy floods hit Germany when the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is on what seems like her last visit to the White House before she leaves office this fall. German’s government spokesperson shared Merkel’s sentiments of the incident on Twitter, where she expressed her shock at the catastrophe. She also conveyed her condolences to the relatives who lost their loved ones, and whose loved ones are missing.
Armin Laschet, the candidate who is looking to replace Merkel in this year’s election, visited the affected regions. During the visit, Laschet blamed global warming. She noted that this was a wake-up call to expedite climate protection measures, both locally and internationally. Meanwhile, a climate activist, Greta Thunberg, tweeted that the extreme weather should not turn into “the new normal.”