Survivors remember their escape and think about the post-flood future of Europe


Pepinster, Belgium-Paul and Madeline Brasour were at home with their two sons in the town of Pepinster, Belgium, when the water “suddenly came” late in the evening.

It was “like a tsunami,” said 42-year-old Paul Brasour, how it went into the house and kept rising instead of retreating.

The family went upstairs and continued to seek safety during the night while the water steadily rose beneath them. They were watching on the roof.

“We started seeing buildings collapse, rooftop people collapse, buildings collapse and fall into the water,” said Brasser.

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Residents will return home on July 17, 2021 in the town of Brommelen, the Netherlands, with cleaning materials. (Bram Janssen / AP Photo)

Eventually, on their way from rooftop to rooftop, they sat down with the other 15 and waited for hours for help. The boat arrived to rescue the children, but the boat began to drink water while the makeshift pier began to collapse. Brussels held back his sons.

“We worked hard for the nine hours,” said Brasser, who has lived in Pepanster since he was ten. “Then the citizen, the father of his son’s best friend … came to the roof and saved us.”

More than 180 people in Belgium and Germany could not withstand the floods that struck parts of Western Europe on Wednesday and Thursday. Thousands of people, like Brasser, have noticed that their homes have been destroyed or terribly tattered.

When the floods subsided, attention was focused on the enormous work of repairing the damage caused by the storm-induced floods and the enormous losses faced by the people in the affected areas.

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Residents and shopkeepers are trying to remove mud from their homes and move unusable furniture out of Ahrweiler in western Germany on July 17, 2021. (Thomas Frey / dpa, via AP)

In Bad Neuenard Ahrweiler in western Germany, Andrea Swactbeiter cleaned up debris from the apartment building on Saturday. The 39-year-old’s home and office were submerged and severely damaged, so he doesn’t know what to do next.

“This was the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” said the muddy Wachtveitel. “Thanks to God. Everyone in our house is still alive, but it was close.”

He said the sound of water flowing downstairs in his building and the screams nearby bothered him.

“We heard a scream from the other side,” Wachtveitel said. “There was a clinic and the patient was trapped.”

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On July 17, 2021, there is a person cleaning mud from his home in Bad Neuenard Ahrweiler, Germany. (MichaelProbst / AP Photo)

Francolo Manelli, who owns a pizzeria Rome in the same town, stood in front of his livelihood restaurant when the workers cleaned up the ruined furniture.

“It took a very long time to build a restaurant and deliver it to its current location,” he said. “And now, after a pandemic, this is devastating.”

“We’re not talking about thousands of euros,” he said to repair the damage. “I made a rough calculation. I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of euros to rebuild the place.”

Romaneri from the Abruzzo region of Italy came to Ahrweiler in 1979 at the age of 15. He said the degree of damage to his adopted home was devastating.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Reyen (C), Madeline Brasour, 37, Paul Brasour, on a tour of the village after the flood in Pepinster, Belgium, on July 17, 2021. (42 years old), talk to his son Samuel (12 years old). AP photo)

“If you look at Ahrweiler now, you can cry,” he said. “It’s my house.”

In the Netherlands, thousands of people who evacuated endangered areas on Thursday and Friday began returning home to investigate the damage on Saturday.

In Brommelen in the south of the Netherlands, Wiel de Bie noticed that the basement was completely flooded. 75-year-old DeBie carefully collected decades of old magazines, photographs, and important documents. All of them were in his basement. Those that have not completely disappeared are flooded and destroyed.

“Apart from the emotional value I think is more important, all the magazines and breaking news from 1960 to 1997 have disappeared,” he said, dripping copies of the magazine from 1924 as he pumped water from the basement. I picked up.

Down the street, the Kant family’s car was still partially underwater. A rubber boot was floating in the flooded garden. Professor Immanuel Kant, 62, said he was grateful for their safety. Still, he added that the task of cleaning up the wreckage and repairing the house was difficult.

“It’s all important. Nothing happened. People were missed, and I mean that,” Kang said. How do you work with insurance? “

In Belgium, Brasser celebrated his 42nd birthday on Saturday. The opportunity may not be what he expected, but the important thing was that his family was safe and together, he said.

“My gift for today,” his voice said intermittently. “My family and all the friends we were with are still alive.”

By Eric Fux and Emily Schultheis

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