Volunteers are clearing debris, evacuating homes, and providing emotional support.
Published on: 07-21-2021
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Belgium has deployed volunteers from local Adventist churches to assist survivors in the areas most affected by recent floods across that European nation.
July 20 was declared a National Day of Mourning in Belgium to honor the victims and missing persons of the severe floods that hit the country. According to reports, Belgium received extreme rainfall from July 12 to 15, leaving a trail of devastation in populated areas. At least 36 people died in the floods, and 160 are reported missing.
Searches are still underway in the affected areas, but rescue operations are almost complete. To date, 37,000 households are without electricity in the provinces of Liège and Walloon Brabant. In Liège, the number dropped to 10,000 homes, but they are still experiencing great difficulty accessing facilities.
Floodwaters also disrupted Belgium’s national railway network, Infrabel, stopping services in the French-speaking south of the country. There were also numerous reports of interruptions to the power supply, broken pipes, or pollution of water catchments linked to surface water infiltration.
Authorities describe it as one of the greatest natural disasters Belgium has ever known. The water has largely receded, but the extreme devastation is gradually becoming visible.
“For safety reasons, the hardest-hit areas were initially only accessible to the local population and emergency services,” Sevil Yigit, communications and fundraising officer for ADRA in Belgium, said.
Yigit added that after getting permission to provide aid, ADRA worked with local authorities and social services to assess needs. “The situation on the ground is dramatic,” he said. “On July 19, we mobilized our teams of volunteers from various Adventist churches in Belgium to help the victims of the floods in Verviers. In addition to clearing debris and evacuating homes that are about to collapse, our volunteers also provide comfort and emotional support to the victims,” he reported.
Volunteer aid operations in Belgium will continue till July 21.
Floodwaters also affected regions in Germany, where ADRA has also deployed a team to provide aid, Matthias Munz, ADRA Germany public relations officer, reported. “Almost 150 people have died, thousands of people are without electricity and water. If there is still clean water, it is polluted and not safe to drink,” he said.
Munz also reported that many people lost everything but that they still don’t have all the details. “How extensive the damage will be is far from clear,” Munz said. “We need your thoughts and prayers for those who lost their lives and for the survivors who must deal with this ordeal.”
He shared that ADRA will take over the coordination of operations, including logistics and in-kind donations such as kitchen facilities to help individuals and families get back to the recovery stage.