Heavy rains across France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium have caused flooding in all four countries, with hundreds confirmed dead already and many more missing.
According to the French national weather service, the amount of rain that fell over two days – Tuesday, July 13, into Thursday, July 15th – is what usually falls in all of June and July. The Aire River, which flows through the northern French departments of Meuse and Ardennes, reached its highest water level in 30 years, causing flash floods of farmlands, homes, campgrounds, and a WWI museum.
In Germany, the Rhine and the Mosel have both broken their banks and are expected to continue rising. Two firefighters were lost in a water rescue in North-Rhine Westphalia, and another county on the same river has evacuated several villages downhill from the Steinbach Reservoir. There are concerns the dam could break under increased pressure of floodwaters.
In the German village of Schuld, which is on the small Ahr river, several homes have collapsed under the pressure of debris-carrying floodwaters. Dozens of people there remain missing, and many more had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes by boat and helicopters. Receding floodwaters there have left behind walls of debris tall enough to bury cars and homes.
In Luxembourg, floodwaters breached the Central Europe Pipeline System, making fuel unavailable to aircraft landing at the country’s only airport. The Alzette and Petrusse rivers, both of which flow through Luxembourg into the Mosel, are flooded and have caused evacuation of riverside villages and parts of Luxembourg City. The Alzette has not seen water this high in over 50 years. Train service through the small country is canceled.
Belgium has reported eight confirmed deaths from flooding, including three elderly people lost when a rescue boat capsized in the village of Pepinster, where the river Vesdre has inundated the town.
The heavy rains tapered off later in the week, with flooding beginning to recede on Saturday. However, it’s likely that similar flooding will happen again next year, if not later this summer.
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