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Walloon government announces €2 billion plan for post-flood reconstruction
The ministers of the Walloon government met in a crisis session on Tuesday to discuss the floods which have so far left 31 people dead and 53 missing.
After observing a nationwide minute of silence for the victims at 12.01, the ministers spent the afternoon debating a range of measures which would help Wallonia recover from the devastation. Among the main points agreed was a €2 billion reconstruction plan.
Minister-president Elio Di Rupo later announced that €800 million would be redirected to the flood reconstruction fund from the Walloon recovery plan, meaning that some of the current projects funded by that would have to be abandoned. In addition, €200 million will come from the treasury while the remaining €1 billion will be found on the financial markets via a "classic" loan.
Uninsured people in the region will be given an immediate interest-free loan of €2,500 via their commune while businesses will also be awarded relief loans of up to €50,000 depending on their size and status. These loans will be made available through Sowalfin, the Walloon SME Financing and Guarantee Company.
The municipalities themselves will also be given financial aid and additional human resources to cope with the demands. Some €5 million has been made available immediately to the municipalities "to allow the different municipalities to have the necessary staff to clear, to clean, to repair as quickly as possible, in addition to the staff that currently exists," Di Rupo said.
"The services of the Walloon region, via the minister of local authorities, will ensure that the mayors benefit from financial means to immediately help all those who have a financial need," he added. "We have already taken steps via the regional crisis centre with all the 262 mayors, including the nine mayors of the municipalities of the German-speaking community."
The clean-up campaign in the region continues in earnest and Di Rupo announced that a temporary storage and treatment facility for waste had been set up while other sites were being sought. The work to remove objects and trees from the region’s watercourses will continue to be a priority.
Other measures related to emergency housing were also agreed upon by the Walloon government.
A census is under way in order to assess the exact number of dwellings affected and the extent of the damage. More than a thousand social housing units have been affected and several hundred are uninhabitable. The Walloon government announced that the usual rules associated with the allocation of social housing would be suspended until 30 September to encourage the rehousing of evacuees and low-income disaster victims.
Those people given temporary accommodation after leaving a dwelling that can be saved and renovated will be rehoused under a ‘precarious occupancy’ agreement valid for a maximum period of six months, renewable one time, while repairs are carried out. For households that were in a public dwelling and whose housing is beyond saving, there will be the possibility of allocating a new home under social emergency conditions.
For households that lived in a public dwelling, the amount of the rent calculated may not be higher than the amount paid in the dwelling they had to evacuate.
In total, €25 million of emergency aid will be dedicated to public housing companies and for the rehousing of households via the Public Centre for Social Action (CPAS).