Counting the cost of the Limburg floods for families and wildlife

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Water damaged furniture awaiting collection in Valkenburg. Photo: Dana Bos

Some 700 families in the Limburg city of Valkenburg are in need of temporary accommodation as they cannot yet return home after flooding last week.

In total, several thousand houses in the city near Maastricht have suffered flood damage and are due to dry out, a process that will take two to three months. Some 900 tons of crumbling furniture, clothing and other household items were picked up by waste pickers, city mayor Daan Prevoo told Radio 1.

All over the country people have come forward to offer accommodation, but most people mean locally, Prevoo said. Some, for example, are installed in holiday parks.

The cleaning operation is it will probably take months, given the amount of garbage the river has dumped as water levels drop.

Environmentalists also warn that the floods have had a devastating effect on wildlife, from insects to small mammals and nesting birds. “It can take years for nature to recover,” said Jaap Dirkmaat, of the Dutch landscape organization VNC. Nu.nl news site.

In particular, the floodwaters removed the top layer of sediment from the river, where aquatic insects breed.

Pollution

The Limburg floods also likely contributed to the pollution of the Meuse, as so much plastic and other garbage was washed away in the swollen river. Experts from Wageningen University have now started monitoring the pollution and will follow it to see where it ends up.

“Experience shows that waste usually appears in nature reserves that we all love, such as the Biesbosch,” said Tim van Emmerik. NOS diffuser.

Plastic, for example, clings to vegetation and river banks where it can be cleaned. But Van Emmerik said he is concerned that a lot of waste will end up in hard-to-reach areas where it will degrade into microplastics, impacting biodiversity for decades to come.

Experts from the Ministry of Transport are also concerned about damage to locks and spillways and damage to pleasure craft. The Meuse, said a spokesperson, is still not sure. “Everything floats, from trees to complete caravans,” he said. “You have no idea what is drifting in the water. “

Meanwhile, the military was enlisted to clean up sandbags used to keep water at bay and to help authorities inspect levees for possible weak spots.

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