Limburg flood was beyond worst case scenario: report
The flood that hit Limburg in July 2021 was beyond the worst-case scenario. Such a disaster can happen anywhere in the Netherlands. There is a real chance that the country will have to deal with extremely high water and other extremes like snowfall, drought, and hail due to climate change. Managing these crises requires a different approach, and government organizations must better prepare for this.
This is the conclusion of the "learning evaluation" commissioned by the Veiligheidsregio Zuid-Limburg (VRZL), drawn up by the Institute for Security and Crisis Management (COT), which was presented in Sittard on Monday. The COT referred to a statement by Professor Bas Jonkman of TU Delft, who spoke of "a unique situation, this disaster has broken all records, in terms of precipitation, drainage, and damage."
In the investigation into the security region, the COT spoke of "a vulnerable crisis organization," where officials too often wore different hats and authorities did not contact each other at the right time. The organization was not prepared for a disaster like this. The crisis teams were inundated with information, and it was often unclear what was more urgent.
When dealing with the flood, a lot went right, but a lot also went wrong. According to deputy chairman Hans Verheijen of the VRZL, a new evaluation plan must be drawn up that can be used under all circumstances.
"We are proud that despite all the misery, we managed to prevent deaths," said fire chief Leon Houben on Monday. But at the same time, different authorities often did not speak each others' language or worked at cross-purposes.
According to Houben, the water rose so quickly that the evacuation of nursing homes in Valkenburg was seriously hampered, and residents spent the night in terror and agony. In Valkenburg, the fire brigade saved a few people from death, who literally had water up to their lips.
Houben said that there was a crisis plan for flooding from the Maas, but not for the small rivers like Geul and Gulp, which affected Valkenburg and others. "We really have to work on that."
Reporting by ANP