Groningen residents return as waters recede

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With water levels dropping in the northern province of Groningen, hundreds of evacuees have been told they can return to their homes on Sunday.

Some 800 people in northeastern Groningen were ordered to leave their homes on Friday morning as high water levels prompted by heavy rainfall and fierce storms were threatening to breach a dike. Police will escort the residents back to their homes on Sunday. Cattle will not yet be allowed to return. A shipping ban also remains in force.

Water levels dropped overnight after the authorities managed to discharge tens of millions of litres of water into the sea. In some areas, water levels fell by as much as 80 centimetres. The water management authorities say the water levels are no longer critical.

The threatened dike is now in a stable condition. But areal inspections revealed several weak spots in the dike. The authorities are still determining how to reinforce the dike. The areal inspections with military fighter jets are also being used to improve the technique.

Dikes and quays do remain a concern, however. Many of them are so saturated with water that they are still at risk of collapsing or bursting. Some dikes have been reinforced with sand bags.

The water management authorities in Groningen and Friesland called in the help of colleagues in the centre of the country to cope with the crisis. Threatened dikes are being inspected round the clock.

Friesland’s water management authorities inspected 700 kilometres of dikes and quays. Around 700 metres of weak spots will be reinforced on Saturday. Fifty inspectors will keep a close eye on the dikes throughout the weekend.

In the south of the country water levels are beginning to drop, too. On Saturday morning, water levels of the Maas in Maastricht were slightly lower. The authorities expect the river to keep subsiding in the coming days. Over the past few days, the Maas had swollen as a result of heavy rainfall.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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