France was hit by more flooding Wednesday as heavy rains continued to fall across large swathes of the country, leaving the River Seine in Paris overflowing and water lapping at the doors of one of the Loire Valley’s most famous chateaux.
Torrential downpours that have lashed France for several days now have also closed roads, stranded people on rooftops and forced schools to close their doors, with parts of the country being hit by the worst flooding in 100 years.
In France’s Loire Valley, a large expanse of water pooled in front of the 16th century Chateau de Chambord, reflecting the much-visited Renaissance castle’s image.
In parts of central France, one of the worst hit regions of the country, schools have been closed and thousands of people evacuated because of the flooding. In the town of Souppes-sur-Loing, the body of an 86-year-old woman was found in her flooded house, though the cause of death has yet to be determined.
Weather forecaster Meteo France described the situation as “exceptional, worse than the floods of 1910” – referring to the Great Flood of Paris when the Seine rose eight metres above its normal level and turned many streets in the capital into waterways.
Fire services have already made 10,000 call-outs across the country since the rain began on Sunday, according to authorities, and the forecast is for more bad weather on Thursday. Two French departments, the Loiret south of Paris and Seine-et-Marne to the east of the French capital, remained on red alert for flooding Thursday morning.
The Loiret, home to the Château de Chambord, has seen an average rainfall of six weeks in just three days.
‘Never seen this’
In Paris, many promenades along the Seine were closed due to the high waters. The river was already 4.45 metres above its normal level as of Wednesday evening and the mayor’s office has predicted it could rise by another metre in the coming days.
The flooding also saw some train services cancelled or delayed in the Paris region, adding to transport woes in the French capital brought on by the current rail and metro strikes.
South of Paris, in the town of Montargis, the deluge turned one street into a canal, forcing locals to don rubber boots to wade through the floodwaters.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls will on Thursday visit Nemours, 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south of Paris, where residents had to be evacuated after the Loing river burst its banks.
“In 60 years of living here I have never seen this,” Sylvette Gounaud, a shopworker in Nemours said. “The centre of town is totally under water, all the shops are destroyed.”
The bad weather has also taken its toll on the French Open – the only major tennis tournament still without protection from the rain. The tournament has faced constant interruptions since it got underway ten days ago.
After Monday's play was completely washed out, only two hours of playing time was possible Tuesday, allowing just two matches to be completed.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2016-06-02