South Limburg was hit by extremely high water levels on Thursday as a result of the heavy rainfall in recent days.

Streets and houses were flooded and half villages had to be evacuated because of the flooding.

"The power of the water is so strong. Everything is just meaningless."

An elderly woman looks down with concern.

She has difficulty walking and is standing in the back of a tractor, with which she has just been evacuated from a care home in Valkenburg.

About five men from the rescue squad pick her up and put her on the ground.

Barely recovered from the shock, she shuffles - under supervision - behind her walker further into the dry part of the hill town of Limburg.

It is an image as seen countless times on Thursday.

The normally so lovely stream De Geul has overflowed its banks and has become a wildly flowing river tens of meters wide.

The lower parts of Valkenburg have to suffer and streams full of brown water.

Garages flood, a bridge collapses, half of cars disappear under water and residents of the Limburg town try to keep the water out with the help of sandbags.

Because they do not always succeed in this, many Valkenburgers are evacuated.

The army does this with large trucks, but also helps the rescue brigade, fire brigade and police.

A trailer full of evacuees is approaching the dry part of Valkenburg.

A trailer full of evacuees is approaching the dry part of Valkenburg.

Photo: Job van der Duty

  • Due to the high water, the south of Limburg has been declared a disaster area.

  • In places like Meerssen and Valkenburg people had to be evacuated.

  • The water in the Meuse has risen to a record high.

    3.1 million liters of water per second flows through it.

  • Several neighborhoods in Maastricht have been evacuated and places further north also have to be evacuated.

Empty tractors drive into Valkenburg and come back full of people

Tractors drive into Valkenburg empty and return with trailers full of people.

The image of two officers protecting an elderly couple in a tractor box with their arms is impressive.

The large amount of water has caused a crisis.

However, not all Valkenburgers experience it that way.

"It certainly does something to me, but you are still full in action mode. A lot has to be done," says Anita Suijlen, as she has just jumped from a tractor.

She only slept a few hours at night and at first she is mainly busy keeping the water out.

"At first I didn't realize it would be such a havoc. But the power of the water is so strong. Everything is just meaningless."

Suijlen was picked up by her partner, who lives in Heerlen.

He pours the water from his boots.

"We won't see the damage until the water has subsided. We were painting downstairs, but we can start again."

Suijlen has never experienced it as bad as Thursday.

"Sometimes the Geul flooded, but then it could still be saved with sweeping. Now everything was just meaningless."


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A cellar full of water

The Geul also causes a lot of flooding in Meerssen, which is 7 kilometers to the west.

Streets are completely flooded and there are gardens from which the water continues to flow.

The basement of Michel Lillu, who lives close to the Geul, is full of water up to the ceiling.

The power went out and his freezer, fridge, washing machine and dryer have all broken down.

"I don't know about the wine stock," he smiles.

He has lived in Meerssen for 27 years and has also seen the Geul flood once, but he has never experienced it as violently as now.

"It's not nice, but things like this happen. And then you just clean it up."


Rescue brigade and army evacuate residents of Valkenburg