Footage shows damaged homes and debris-lined streets along river after floods leave 190 dead
ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports on the days of devastation caused by surging flood waters in Europe
Homes ripped apart by floods, floating cars and piles of rubble and debris are some of the scenes seen in the areas near the river Vesdre in Belgium.
ITV News flew a helicopter along the Belgian-German river, over the areas of Chaudfontaine, Trooz and Pepinster, to assess the damage wreaked by heavy floods across western Europe.
More than 190 people have died in the floods, fuelled by days of heavy rain, and searches remain underway for the missing.
Thousands in western Germany, eastern Belgium and the Netherlands found themselves homeless after their dwellings were destroyed or deemed to be at risk, dikes on swollen rivers were at risk of collapsing and crews raced to reinforce flood barriers.
ITV News flew along a river route in Belgium to assess the damage wreaked by heavy floods
German officials defended their preparations for flooding but conceded they will need to learn lessons from the disaster.
The search for more victims and the clean-up of the mess left behind by the floods continued on Monday as floodwaters receded.
German economy minister Peter Altmaier told the Bild newspaper: “As soon as we have provided the immediate aid that stands at the forefront now, we will have to look at whether there were things that didn’t go well, whether there were things that went wrong, and then they have to be corrected.
“That isn’t about finger-pointing – it’s about improvements for the future.”
Armin Schuster, the head of Germany’s civil protection agency, said the country’s weather service had “forecast relatively well” and the country was well-prepared for flooding on its major rivers.
But he told ZDF television, “half an hour before, it is often not possible to say what place will be hit with what quantity” of water.
He said his agency sent 150 warning notices out via apps and media.
He promised to investigate where sirens sounded and where they did not.
In the worst-affected German state, Rhineland-Palatinate, officials said municipalities had been alerted and acted on the warnings of floods.
But the state’s interior minister, Roger Lewentz, who visited the hard-hit village of Schuld with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday, said technical infrastructure, including that for electricity, was "destroyed in one go”.
He said local authorities “tried very quickly to react".
He continued: “But this was an explosion of the water in moments. … You can have the very best preparations and warning situations (but) if warning equipment is destroyed and carried away with buildings, then that is a very difficult situation.”