‘Many houses don’t exist’: The families whose lives have been destroyed by floods
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 15/07/2021
Families are grieving for their loved ones after devastating floodwaters crashed through parts of Germany and Belgium – washing away houses and leaving many others in danger of falling apart.
Sky’s Europe correspondent Michelle Clifford has visited the village of Schuld in western Germany and Ensival, eastern Belgium, to speak to families whose neighbourhoods have been turned into scenes of widespread devastation.
When we visit the German village of Schuld many of its residents are walking through the streets looking simply bewildered.
They cannot take in the magnitude of what the floods delivered here. House after house, property after property simply shattered by the water.
And some residents in this place where people know each other lost their lives.
We talk to one elderly woman who says she’s experienced flooding before but nothing like this in her lifetime.
The sheer force of the water left much of the village in ruins, some houses utterly destroyed, cars upended, huge trees ripped up at their roots.
Many struggle to hold back the tears as they show what has happened to their properties.
Margaret Radermacher takes us into the house she has lived in for sixteen years.
The floors are coated in mud, furniture sodden, everything in her sewing room will need to be replaced.
“It’s an absolute catastrophe”, she tells me.
“There are many people who have been affected. Many houses don’t exist, the full extent isn’t yet known.”
Schuld was one of the areas in western Germany hardest hit by floods after near unprecedented rainfall.
Power, electricity and phone connection are cut off.
That meant many worried relatives spent hours trying to find out if their loved ones were safe.
We meet Andreas Mueller outside the home of his mother and father in law.
He spent last night waiting hours to find out if they were safe.
“Overnight they were upstairs and it was dark because there was no power,” he said.
“There was also no phone connection, we tried to reach them all night and it was very hard to get them.”
His in-laws are now safe but the home they’ve been in most of their lives is uninhabitable. They spent the night sheltering upstairs.
Fire crews and emergency workers are doing what they can to make the village and surrounding area safe.
Some houses have already collapsed and others are standing precariously.
We drove into the village on a road and when we passed by a couple of hours later it had crumbled away. Police tape steered people on alternative routes.
And the fear here is that more rain is to come and with it more misery for western Germany.
Ground is already sodden, properties already damaged and so many have already seen their homes and businesses destroyed.
The rain and the floods have impacted many way beyond this corner of Germany.
Homes in eastern Belgium are also underwater after record levels of rain. Some properties are now too dangerous to stay in.
Laetita Colin and her family were forced to leave their house in the town of Ensival.
“Around 4am the water started rising from over there, I told my partner and were able to move the car and quickly move a few things upstairs,” she said.
“Then we had to go as the waters rose so quickly inside the house.”
Of the more than 57 deaths caused by the flooding in Europe, 49 of the fatalities were in Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling the situation a “catastrophe”.
In Belgium, among the fatalities were two men who died due to the torrential rain. A 15-year-old girl is missing after being swept away by a swollen river.
© Sky News 2020