Count the cost of flooding Limburg to families and wildlife

Flooded furniture awaiting collection in Falkenburg. Photo: Dana Bos

Approximately 700 families in the Limburg town of Falkenburg need temporary accommodation as they are still unable to return home after the flood last week.

In towns near Maastricht, a total of thousands of homes have been flooded and need to be dried. This process takes a couple of months. Town mayor Daan Prevoo said in Radio 1 news that about 900 tonnes of abandoned furniture, clothing and other household items were picked up by a garbage collector.

People all over the country have come positively to provide accommodation, but most people want to say in rural areas, Prevoo said. For example, some are located in holiday parks.

The cleanup process can take months, given the amount of garbage the river throws away as the water level drops.

Ecologists also warn that floods have devastating effects on wildlife, from insects to small mammals and breeding birds. “It may take years for nature to recover,” the Dutch landscape organization VNC Jaap Dirkmaat told the news website

In particular, flood water stripped the top layers of river sediments where aquatic insects breed.


The Limburg floods may also have contributed to the pollution of the Meuse River, as large amounts of plastic and other waste were washed away in the swollen rivers. Experts at the University of Wageningen are now beginning to monitor pollution and will track where the pollution ends.

“Experience shows that waste usually appears in nature reserves that we all love, such as Beesbosch,” Tim Van Emmerick told broadcaster NOS.

For example, plastic can get caught in vegetation or riverbanks and cleaned there. However, Van Emmerich said he was concerned that much of the waste would end up in hard-to-reach areas where it would break down into microplastics, affecting biodiversity over the next few decades.

Transport ministry experts are also concerned about damage to locks and weirs, and damage to pleasure boats. A spokeswoman said the river Meuse is still unsafe. “Everything is floating, from trees to complete caravans,” he said. “You don’t know what’s floating in the water.”

Meanwhile, the Army was drafted to clean up sandbags that were used to keep water away and to help authorities inspect potential weaknesses in the embankment.

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Count the cost of flooding Limburg to families and wildlife

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