Thousands flee as flash floods force evacuations in Roermond
The city of Roermond will begin evacuating homes near the Hambeek and Roer, streams that branch off from the Maas River which is expected to reach a record high water level between Thursday night and Friday afternoon. Some 5,000 residents of Roermond will either need to find shelter elsewhere, or will be allowed to gather at the local Jo Gerris sports center on Achilleslaan.
The evacuation was announced by Rianne Donders, the city's mayor, during a late afternoon press conference. If the river branches reach their peak water level at the same time as the Maas the likely result will be heavy flooding in Roermond.
"People can leave now," said Antoin Scholten from the Limburg-Noord regional security office. "Find another place." He said local officials expect most people will be able to stay with relatives and acquaintances.
"This is an unprecedented situation," Scholten said. "We have never experienced so much water being emptied through the Maas. That requires alertness."
Anyone living in an area that faces even a slight threat of flooding should take appropriate defensive measures as soon as possible, and should not wait for the water to arrive. The city pointed residents to a website set up to educate people on the steps they can take.
"We are dealing with an unprecedented situation due to high water in Limburg. So help each other during this time. See where you can help your neighbors, friends and family and keep your own safety in mind. Stay away from the disaster areas and keep roads clear for emergency services," the security office said.