Devastating floods in Western Europe have left at least 100 people dead and more than a thousand are still unaccounted for. Flash floods following exceptionally heavy rainfall have struck Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg primarily with a disaster that few were prepared for or expected to see. The flood is one of the worst Western Europe has seen in a century and has left entire towns and villages nearly submerged.
More than 1,000 people missing
Heavy rainfall in Western Europe had already saturated the ground in many areas when a several days of particularly heavy rain prompted the flooding.
Rivers and reservoirs burst after the soil could no longer absorb any more water. Overnight flash floods caught many people completely unaware.
The German Rhineland states were the most heavily affected by the disaster, which swept away old brick and wooden houses in the surging waters.
Evacuations were ordered in several areas amid fears that the flooding could become even worse or that dams could break.
Germany has deployed hundreds of soldiers to assist in rescue efforts and volunteers from the U.S. base at Spangdahlem have assisted in placing sandbags to protect local buildings from the waters.
Flooding has also affected northeastern France and damaged crops and houses, though no deaths have been reported in that country.
Entire villages cut off
Many villages have been almost completely cut off by floods and landslides that obstructed roads and hindered communication by phone.
Fortunately, officials say that most of the people who are currently unaccounted for are presumed to be cut off and unable to contact rescuers but still alive.
The full extent of the damage will likely not be known until the floodwaters recede completely, but the number of missing people should decrease drastically as rescuers are able to reestablish connections to the isolated areas.
Many political leaders have been quick to attribute the extreme rainfall to the effects of climate change, though some experts have pointed out that it is far too soon to identify an exact cause.
Then again, it would be difficult to locate any natural disaster of the last decade that has not been attributed to global warming.
Whatever the source of the flooding may have been, the true scale of the devastation in Germany and Belgium may not be known for some time.