The date is easy to remember. The 14th of July. How do the flood victims live, 3 months later? Where are they at? Where are they staying? Are they compensated? Did help arrive quickly? The Investigation team, made up of Santos Hevia Garcia, Pierre Mélice, Geoffrey Simonon, Colin Wulput, Valentine Liénard and Anne-Catherine Croufer returned to the scene. Images, smells, encounters that none of us will be able to forget.
Christine, saved in extremis: “I wanted to die on my barge”
On the port of yachts in Liège, barges are docked. The Meuse becomes more and more violent. One of the barges, that of Christine Turtle, 86, is pitching. Volunteer rescuers try to persuade her to leave her boat, but she doesn’t want to. It’s his whole life, 40 years of memories and experiences. In the end, it was almost by ripping her off that rescuers managed to keep her alive. His daughter, Linsay Varney, tells us: “She wanted to die on her boat. She is furious at the rescuers. Today, she will have to go to a nursing home, it’s complicated. She has nothing left and the nursing home is going to be expensiveLike so many others, Christine Turtle will change her life. From a barge, she will go into a nursing home. She will try to rebuild herself.
Suzanne, saved at the last minute from her now non-existent house
On July 15, during a news report, we witnessed a collapsing house in Trooz, in the district of La Brouck. We are powerless, cries for help are chilling, cold in the back. We wondered if the lady and her dog had survived. The Investigation team set out to find him. And yes ! She was saved … by her neighbor. She is 85 years old, but today all that remains is rubble from her house. Suzanne currently lives with her daughter and hopes to one day return to live in La Brouck. How can we imagine his future? She has nothing left, no more clothes, no more memories, no more walls, nothing. When we met her, she was doing her “hard”: “I had to take a long stride through the void, my neighbor pulled me up and I jumped into his arms“, explains Suzanne Billet. Before leaving us, she cracks. Standing on the rubble, she gives herself up:”I still have tears in my eyes. I would love to come back here. I was quiet in my little corner … and here it is, this is the story of the house“.
Suzanne’s story is the story of thousands of disaster victims who lost everything in one night.
During our investigation, we encountered dozens of them. Today, they are fighting with insurance. Some companies are reluctant to reimburse properly. Others are more human and things are going well. Currently, in the Liège basin, 20% of victims are fully compensated, 50 are still in negotiation, and 30% have still not received a visit from an expert.
Experts are overwhelmed, tradesmen too. For now, the houses are still drying out. Doors and windows wide open. But winter is approaching. Several victims still do not have gas for heating or cooking. One of the victims we met received a visit … from a car expert. You read that correctly: a car expert came, not for his car, but for real estate. He was thus able to receive an advance from the insurance, while waiting for the real estate expert… in November.
Three months later, several towns and villages are still “dead”. Take the example of Chaudfontaine, a few steps from Liège. The casino is closed, the thermal baths are closed, the restaurants are closed, the houses are abandoned. Not an open bakery, grocery store or butcher’s shop. They are ghost villages.
It will take years and years to rebuild.
The toll is 38 dead and still one missing. 50,000 damaged homes. 97 km² of flooded areas. 160,000 tons of waste washed away.
In all: 209 municipalities out of 262 were declared disaster victims.
Firefighters stuck in a gas station on July 14 return to the scene