“Whole places are scarred by the disaster,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a news conference after the worst flooding in decades to hit the region. “Many people have lost what they have built all their lives.”
Photographs and drone footage showed scenes of total — and sudden — devastation in the heart of Europe: a regional train trapped in a flooded station, vehicles abandoned on waterlogged roadways, survivors floating down a city street on rubber boats.
“What should have been beautiful summer days were suddenly transformed into dark and extremely sad days for our compatriots,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Friday. “We are still waiting for a definitive toll, but it could be that this flood becomes the most catastrophic our country has ever known.”
The storm — a major low-pressure system that stretched from Germany to France — brought a deluge Thursday that quickly swelled rivers, collapsed bridges and roads, and left many people scrambling to rooftops or onto fallen trees. At one point, German officials said up to 1,300 people remained unaccounted for. But the staggering figure could be due to the fact that mobile phone networks were crippled….