Flemish government will 'most likely' recognise floods as disaster
The floods in West Flanders will "most probably" be recognised as a disaster by the Flemish government, said minister president Jan Jambon on Friday. Jambon said that all indicators show that the floods have taken on "exceptional proportions" and that "everything is being done to meet the demands of the victims as quickly as possible".
The Flemish government is able to recognise the effects of exceptional weather phenomena, such as extreme drought or flooding, as disasters. This is done after obtaining the necessary advice, for example from the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) and the Financial Inspectorate. Affected farmers can then apply for aid from the Flemish Disaster Fund.
"We want to ensure that the victims are compensated as quickly as possible"
The criteria for recognition as a disaster will most likely be met for the Westhoek region in West Flanders. "We want to ensure that the victims are compensated as quickly as possible. The RMI, the Flemish Environment Agency and the Hydraulic Laboratory have been asked to determine the exact extent of the disaster," said Jambon.
The Flemish government is also setting up a task force to come up with proposals "to avoid such disasters as much as possible in the future". This task force will consist of experts from the Flemish government and local actors. The government is also calling for additional efforts from neighbouring France.
More rain on Saturday
The flooding in West Flanders started last week after a period of heavy rain. Water levels are currently receding everywhere and there were no new problems during the night from Thursday to Friday. But it remains to be seen how the forecast rain for Saturday will affect the situation, the provincial government said.
Following the example of Belgian politicians, King Philippe visited the flood-hit region on Friday morning. He visited the crisis centre in Diksmuide and a flooded farm in the Woumen district.
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