Luxembourgh Times

Opposition wants probe into lack of flood warnings

Parties ask for independent study into the way government handled flood warnings during torrential rainfall

People being rescued in Echternach

People being rescued in Echternach © Photo credit: Gerry Huberty

Deputy editor-in-chief  

Luxembourg's government must come clear on whether it should have given residents a clearer warning of devastating floods two weeks ago, opposition parties have said, after local residents blasted authorities for not doing enough to prevent evacuations and heavy financial damage.

Torrential rain on 14 and 15 July caused rivers to burst their banks across the country, flooding entire towns and villages, driving thousands from their homes, and causing travel disruptions on railways and roads.

In the days following the floods, many people who suffered damage to their homes and businesses criticised the government for not doing enough to warn them of the risks of the upcoming floods.

Opposition parties this week put their weight behind the aspersions, asking for an independent study to asses what was communicated to people, whether the government should have done more, and how to put it right in future.

The report should look into how the information trickled down from the government to local authorities, emergency services, the media and the public.

The government maintains it had done what it should and that people had received several warnings, via media weather reports and through updates on the country’s national flooding website.

Luxembourg is working on a so-called ‘cell broadcast system’, which sends text messages to warn people of risks such as flooding, similar to a system in place in the US, Interior Minister Taina Bofferding said on RTL TV on Wednesday.

The opposition parties asked the study to reveal when this system may be ready and why a local app, GouvAlert - intended to warn people of upcoming dangers - failed to send any warnings ahead of the floods.

Luxembourg insurance companies are likely to have to pay up to €120 million in flood claims, the most expensive in the history of the industry in Luxembourg, the Insurance and Reinsurance Association (ACA) said last week.