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Storm Odette wreaks havoc in East and West Flanders
Sveral people were injured in West Flanders as storm Odette blew through Belgium this weekend. The coast also suffered considerable damage as winds blew up to 108 kilometres an hour. Winds inland reached about 90 km/hr.
Café chairs, garden furniture, branches and roof tiles could be seen flying all over the province, particularly on the coast. Beach huts blew over up and down the coast and an unstable wall on a construction site was brought down in a controlled demolition in Blankenberge. A construction worker in Middelkerke had to be hospitalised when a wall collapsed on him.
Even walkers were injured by flying debris and had to be taken to hospital. “We advise everyone to stay home,” said emergency services civil servant Barbara Wyseure on Friday evening. “It is dangerous outside. People are literally getting blown off their feet.”
Cars parked near promenades were also buried up to their doors in sand and had to be dug out by their owners. Further inland, in Alveringem, three firefighters were injured when a tree fell on them just as they were trying to clear the debris from another fallen tree.
In East Flanders, the biggest problem was flooding. In some places, as much rain fell in 24 hours as normally falls in an entire month. Emergency services were called out 1,800 times in the two provinces from Friday to Saturday.
Odette is the first storm named by Belgium since the country signed on to take part in the Europe storm naming system. The storm has now passed, and the outlook is much calmer through Wednesday this week. But more heavy rain and strong winds are expected on Thursday.