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French government to release tens of millions of euros for flood victims

© Alain Jocard, AFP | French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visits flooded areas in Crosne on June 4.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-06-06

The French government on Monday announced it will create an emergency fund to help people who had “lost everything” in massive floods as Paris museums that were forced to close began reopening their doors.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that tens of millions of euros would be made available to victims of flooding who face long waits before insurance companies compensate them for damages.

“Without delay, the government has decided to create an emergency fund for people without resources who have lost everything,” Valls told reporters after a ministers’ meeting.

He said the emergency fund would be managed by prefects in departments affected by the floods, working in cooperation with local social service offices.

Meanwhile, the Grand Palais exhibition hall in Paris reopened Sunday as floodwaters slowly receded from the French capital.

The worst floods in three decades caused the River Seine to burst its banks, forcing the world-famous Louvre and Orsay museums to close their doors in a race to move art treasures out of basements to higher ground. Both museums are expected to re-open Tuesday. 

Other regions remained at risk, notably parts of Normandy, as digging out began in villages and towns around the French capital.

Quayside restaurants along the Seine were still engulfed in water Sunday and tourist boats were unable to pass under bridges, a blow to the riverside economy.

The Seine peaked Saturday at 6.10 metres (20 feet), but authorities warned it will take up to 10 days for the river to return to normal.

Meeting with farmers

After a week of exceptionally heavy rains around Europe, at least 18 people died in flooding in Germany, France, Romania and Belgium.

New thunderstorms were forecast for eastern France on Sunday. In Normandy, the Seine River was expected to peak later in the day. More than 11,000 French homes are still without electricity.

West of Paris, the Seine overflowed around the medieval city of Rouen overnight, but the local administration said Sunday the damage was "localised and limited" and severe flood warnings for the area were lifted.

Townsfolk were digging out southeast of Paris in the hard-hit Seine-et-Marne region around Nemours, where the Loing River overflowed. Small animals at a local zoo were among the victims.

French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll on Monday was scheduled to meet with farmers from the Seine-et-Marne region who have been affected by the surge.

President François Hollande said Wednesday's Cabinet meeting will also focus on the floods.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2016-06-06


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