AFTER THE FLOOD
In the summer of 2021 heavy rain caused the overflow of various streams and rivers in Belgium.
„41 people died in such floods in my country last July,“ - said Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo at the UN climate change conference in Glasgow, - „the first Belgian citizens who fell victim to climate change. Other countries and other continents already paid a much higher price, but for us, that was something far away. Something on TV. Not any more.”
Five months after the catastrophe the effects are still visible and the trauma has changed peoples lives. The urgency of the climate crisis cannot be denied.
• WALLONIA, BELGIUM - AUTUMN 2021
„I was not home during the floods but my neighbours luckily looked after the dogs. A lot of my furniture is destroyed and my flat still looks like a mess. It’s too much to handle for one person. Only my grandchildren manage to improve my mood, I’m suffering from depression since the catastrophe happened. In the beginning I was sleeping on a big seat cushion in the living room and still I can’t use my bedroom. But the dogs took over the cushion so I decided to leave it to them and sleep on a mattress on the floor.
I have difficulties with the insurance, they don’t want to pay for my damaged window. They say it’s not because of the floods. But I know it is.
Besides the reparations that have not been done yet, I really miss the moral support. I know that there were politicians visiting some places but here I haven’t seen anyone.“
„One of my relatives had to go to the roof of his house and with his two children he waited there for two ours before they could be rescued.
For me and my wife it was not as bad. At 4 or 5 in the morning we looked outside the window and saw cars floating by. Then suddenly we realized that there was our own car! We live in the second floor so luckily there things are okay and also for us the insurance payed immediately. But I heard that for others it’s much more difficult. Now I’m cleaning the barbershop downstairs. The coiffeur had just left the shop before it happened, lucky her. I’m not afraid that it will happen again, generally things don’t frighten me. But my wife is afraid. Every time she sees the images of the floods she has to cry."
„I live in an apartment more up so in my flat there was no damage. But my friend lives downstairs, her apartment was completely flooded. It was early morning when it happened, I couldn‘t believe my eyes. I looked outside the window and the street was full of water“
with her nephew
„In that house behind us two people died when they tried to go outside. I was lucky because the water stopped 70cm in front of my house. But what we saw was like the Apocalypse. There was a caravan floating by in the streets and at one point my niece said 'there is a dead body in the water!' When we looked closer we saw that it was a mannequin.“
„A caravan floated by in front of my eyes. For three days I heard nothing from one of my sons in Verviers. I was very worried. Right now he is staying with me, his house is completely destroyed. My house is fortunately a bit further up, but a daughter of mine who lives here in town has also been badly hit. Some people tell me: ‚You can‘t understand how we feel, you don‘t have any problems‘. I find that strange. I have lived here for 40 years, raised seven children. You can‘t influence whether you get hit or not. The man from this house down here by the river saw his wife being swept away by the floodwaters. They found her days later. It‘s just cruel. You have to keep thinking about it because it‘s almost impossible but it‘s true.“
„When the floods happened I just came from shopping and I had a lot of things that needed to go in the freezer. I tried to get to the flat by car, but obviously that was not possible, so I went to a friend‘s house to stow my groceries. Now I think I should have acted differently since it was quite a dangerous situation. At the moment I didn’t realize it, but I should have waited and not tried to reach my house. By the time it was possible to go back we could see the damage. A car was stuck at the side of the house and I think it made the water turn away from my apartment. I had water in my cellar but not too much damage in the living area. The weekend after the catastrophe a lot of people from all over the country came to help us. I wanted them to first help the more affected ones but when I realized that there were actually enough hands I accepted the help of a mother and her son.“
"We were at home when the water came and I think it is possible that it will happen again. That is for sure one reason why we want to move away from here but also this road is very dangerous for the kids. Almost every day an accident happens in the curve. In the Garage there is still the smell of polluted water."