Up to 500 members of the army should be deployed around the clock for clean-up work in teams over the next few days.
The army carried out urgent security work above the village, as a video journalist from the Keystone-SDA news agency reported on site. The soldiers and officers freed the course of the Ruhaut river from rubble, dirt and driftwood with several excavators and lifting devices. This should prevent new floods during thunderstorms.
In the village itself, members of the army used pimples and shovels to clean up dirt. In addition to the sweaty work, there was another difficulty: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the soldiers had to wear face masks.
“The population is very happy about this help from the army,” said Georges-André Lozouet, spokesman for the organization for crisis and disaster protection of the canton of Neuchâtel, on Sunday. “It’s a big piece of machinery that arrives here, with lots of resources.”
After the severe floods last Tuesday, the Neuchâtel State Council requested support from the army. Genie Battalion 6 is specifically used for the assistance service approved at short notice in the context of disaster relief. It was on the refresher course in the canton of Aargau.
Meter-high mud and dirt
Initially, 200 emergency services were on site, as an army spokesman said on request. If necessary, however, up to 500 members of the army in Cressier could provide help.
The Neuchâtel village of 1900 souls was hit by a violent storm on Tuesday. Two brooks overflowed their banks and flooded the place. Cellars were flooded and cars swept away. Mud and dirt were deposited meters high in houses and on the streets. Nobody got hurt.
Around 75 buildings were damaged. According to the army, water, electricity and gas supply networks were also affected.
Dozens of people evacuated
Dozens of people have been evacuated from their homes. On Sunday, ten families or between 35 and 40 people were housed elsewhere, as mayor Jean Bernard Simonet said.
The clean-up work extended to the municipalities of Frochaux, Enges and Cressier. They are expected to last until next Wednesday.
The soldiers also support the community in clearing access to certain buildings. Civilian forces and several civil engineering companies are also deployed to deal with the damage and clean up. There are also experts from the canton for road and bridge construction as well as geologists on site.
Heavy thunderstorms possible on Monday
Several storm-like thunderstorms have hit parts of Switzerland since last weekend. Heavy rain and hail caused damage to buildings, vehicles and household items amounting to over 260 million francs, according to the insurers.
For Monday, meteorologists expected heavy thunderstorms with potential for severe weather again, especially in the Jura and the Central Plateau. The private weather service Meteonews announced that many lightning bolts, heavy rain and local hail as well as gusts of wind near thunderstorms are to be expected.