A volunteer firefighter who saved numerous people in Belgium during the floods last week after travelling there with his own expensive zodiac boat worth EUR 18,000 has had it stolen.
Marc Hublet saw reports in the media about the flooding situation in Western Europe last week and decided that he and his wife and children would go to one of the worst-hit areas with their expensive zodiac boat worth EUR 18,000 (GBP 15,500) to help.
Hublet, who is from Jauche, a municipality in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant, is a volunteer with the local fire brigade. When he realised how flooded the nearby city of Liege was, he used the zodiac to look for people who had become trapped in their homes.
He told local media outlet HLN: “I rescued a five-year-old boy and his uncle from their roof in Chenee [in Liege], among other things. I kept going until 3 am.”
But the current from the torrential flooding became so strong that even he had to take a break, leaving the boat there as he was unable to immediately take it home.
He told local media outlet 7sur7: “The next morning already I returned, but my boat had disappeared.”
He added: “Neighbours had seen how some guys had left with it. At first, they thought I had sent them, so they didn’t see any danger.”
Hublet took to Facebook to appeal for the boat to be returned to him, saying in his post: “I saved six families and then this… It makes me sick to death.”
After the appeal on social media, that was widely shared in the area, the boat was finally found, albeit deflated, and in rather poor condition, and with the engine missing.
It was found on a piece of wasteland, having apparently been stripped for parts.
The boat is in very poor condition but it can be repaired, albeit at a cost of between EUR 8,000 and EUR 10,000 (GBP 6,900 and GBP 8,600).
A fundraising campaign has been started to help Hublet repair his boat: https://www.leetchi.com/c/solidarite-pour-marc-hublet-un-heros
At the time of writing it had raised EUR 2,249 (GBP 1,943).
Hublet is now spending his holidays continuing to help affected residents. He said: “I do this wholeheartedly. I have often helped people, this will certainly not be the last time.”