The town of Dinant, Belgium, was cleaning up on Sunday after its heaviest floods in decades the previous day turned streets into torrential streams that washed away cars and pavement but did not kill anyone.
The flooding followed a two-hour thunderstorm, which left streets strewn with rubble, wrecked cars and thick mud.
Dinant was spared the deadly floods of 10 days ago that killed 37 people in southeast Belgium and many more in Germany, but the violence of Saturday’s storm surprised many.
“I have been living in Dinant for 57 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Richard Fournaux, the former mayor of the town on the Meuse river, said on social media.
Rainwater gushing down steep streets swept away dozens of cars, piling them in a heap at a crossing, and washed away cobblestones, pavement and whole sections of tarmac as inhabitants watched in horror from windows.
There was no precise estimate of the damage, with town authorities predicting only that it would be “significant,” according to Belgian RTL TV.
“In less than 20 minutes, the water rushed down from here, above, then it gradually grew larger. It became a torrent, and the torrent took all the cars away,” said local resident Pierre Coleau.
Another resident, Andy Martinez, described the damage the flooding did to his home.
“Water rushed in, both in my living room and here, in the cellar, and from the two holes I have in the alleys. Everything rushed in and everything was swept away,” Martinez said.
Belgium’s French-speaking region of Wallonia was hit the hardest by a renewed deluge coming only weeks after 37 people died in flash flooding.
The Belgian weather service RMI predicted further rain and issued thunderstorm warnings for Sunday.