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Netherlands Puts Farmers On Flood Alert

Authorities in the Netherlands have warned farmers in several northern provinces to leave their homes and farms because strong winds and heavy rain have raised concerns of possible coastal flooding.

Coen Vaarkamp, a spokesman for Groningen region's emergency authority, said the high water levels are a threat to houses in the area.

"If the water spills over the dike, it might flood the houses. The police have secured the area. For the safety of the houses and for the safety of the people we recommend that they evacuate," he said.

The northern provinces have been drenched with rainfall in recent days and the strong winds have hampered attempts to drain areas of reclaimed land. Vaarkamp says the dikes are being monitored. "At this moment we can do nothing to relieve the situation, because of the wind, rain and water coming. We should secure the area and check the dikes, and monitor them all the time," said Vaarkamp.

Some farmers in the Groningen area refused to leave their cattle despite a warning that a nearby dike could give in.

"They asked us to mobilize our families and leave the area. But we don't want to leave our cattle alone as we are farmers. We can't leave our cows to drown here if there are floods," said one farmer.

Water companies say they have pumped millions of liters into the sea.

Heavy rains and storms Thursday disrupted operations at Rotterdam, Europe's biggest port. High winds and storms were also recorded in other parts of Europe, including Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.