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Report into July flooding urges public alert system upgrade

Report into July flooding urges public alert system upgrade

by Yannick HANSEN 2 min. 08.10.2021 From our online archive
First official acknowledgement by government of gaps, after those affected said they had not been warned adequately in advance of the deluge
The aftermath of flooding in Echternach in July
The aftermath of flooding in Echternach in July
Photo credit: Guy Jallay

Luxembourg's alert system for warning the public of extreme weather needs to be improved, a government report into the devastating July floods has found, in the first official admission of shortcomings after anger from residents that they had not been given enough warning in advance.

Potential steps to improve the current system and reach an even larger section of the public could include closer co-operation with media outlets or using social media more effectively, according to a summary of the report on the parliament's website.

Interior Minister Taina Bofferding and Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg informed lawmakers of the findings during a joint closed doors session of their respective committees on Thursday, but the full report has not yet been released publicly.

In the aftermath of the deluge in July, residents had complained that they did not receive adequate warnings of the incoming floods, with some suggesting the government should have sent out so-called push notifications to people's mobile devices.

At the time, the government defended its response, saying it had taken sufficient steps to inform the public by relaying warnings to Luxembourg's media outlets and by updating its flood-warning website, The report represents a first official acknowledgement that the government could have better handled the crisis. 

The estimated cost of the damage caused by the torrential downpours stands at €120 million, the trade association for insurers said in July, making it the most expensive event in the history of the insurance industry in Luxembourg.  

In August, Bofferding also said the government would work on introducing a so-called ‘cell broadcast system’, which sends text messages to warn people of risks such as flooding - already widely in use in countries such as Japan and the United States.

After reading the report, opposition lawmakers re-iterated their earlier call for an independent probe into events leading up to the floods, according to the summary of the meeting.

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