Floods hit Paris as torrential rain lashes much of France

Water levels of the River Seine at Paris could reach 5.70 metres by the weekend, as rain continues to fall on much of France. Some 5,000 people have been moved out of their homes as town centres and roads have been flooded by rivers south of Paris as water levels rise faster than in 1910 when the French capital suffered its worst-ever floods.

Firefighters rescue residents in Nemours on Wednesday
Firefighters rescue residents in Nemours on Wednesday Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Schools have been closed, 5,500 people moved from their homes, rescue workers have been called out to help 10,000 people and some 80 roads have been partially closed as torrential rain, which killed four and caused havoc in Germany and Austria, hit much of France.

Eight departments were on orange alert Thursday and the Seine-et-Marne remained on red alert, although water levels on the river Loing started to subside at Nemours, where the centre of the town had been under water for more than a day and water and power was cut off for many homes.

A council worker takes part in the rescue operation in Nemours
A council worker takes part in the rescue operation in Nemours Reuters//Christian Hartmann

Over 2,000 people have been placed in temporary accommodation, about 20 of them saved by a boat patrol overnight, according to mayor Valérie Lacroute.

At Melun, a major town south-east of Paris, the River Seine was still rising as heavy rain fell on Thursday morning.

In the Loiret department, which was taken off red alert on Thursday morning, the equivalent of six weeks' rain has fallen in three days, making road and rail access to the historic city of Orleans difficult and the A10 motorway closed in several places.

Emergency funds promised

Environment Minister Ségolène Royal, on a visit to Nemours, declared that a state of natural catastrophe, which gives immediate access to national emergency funding, would be declared and Ile de France regional president Valérie Pécresse announced an emergency fund of one million euros.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who had already visited the national crisis centre in Paris, and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited Nemours later in the day and announced "exceptional" finance for local authorities who have to tackle the effects of the storms.

Valls warned of a "tense" situation in the Essonne department, west of Paris, with 2,000 evacuations expected at Longjumeau and Corbeil-Essonnes.

A couple on the bank on the River Seine in Paris Wednesday
A couple on the bank on the River Seine in Paris Wednesday Reuters/Charles Platiau

Seine rising at Paris

There was anxiety in Paris, too, as the River Seine continued to rise, submerging some railway lines, which were also affected by strike action.

The central Saint Michel station was closed due to flooding.

Paris city council said that "particular vigilance" was necessary with the danger of water levels reaching 5.10-5.70 metres - close to the 6.00 metres that brings a risk of serious flooding to the city.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app