Weekend storm could be recognised as natural disaster

Summary

The minister-president of Flanders has asked cities to report storm-related damage, the first step in getting a recognition

Government funding

Flanders’ minister-president, Geert Bourgeois, has asked for an investigation into whether yesterday’s storm can be recognised as a natural disaster. This would allow those who have suffered damage to receive subsidies.

The first step is for municipalities to declare to the Flemish Disaster Fund that their citizens have suffered sufficient damage to warrant recognition of the storm. Then the specifics of the storm are determined through scientific research.

Should the weather be found to been the cause of the damage in enough cities and towns, the government of Flanders can recognise it as a natural disaster. “Flemish towns saw a significant amount of damage this weekend as a result of wind gusts,” said Bourgeois. “They have 30 days to submit a request to the Disaster Fund to have the storm recognised as a disaster. After that, the Royal Meteorological Institute can begin an investigation.”

Normally if winds reach 120km an hour, the RMI has a foundation on which to base its decision to recommend that the storm be declared a natural disaster.

Yesterday’s storm caused tiles to fly off roofs, felled trees and saw several rail lines brought to a halt by debris on the tracks. A man in Mol, Antwerp province, who was out fishing, died after being hit by a falling tree.

Photo: Joris Van Hoof/BELGA