France | Hundreds of evacuations in Pas-de-Calais due to floods

(Blendecques) More than 300 people have been evacuated in recent days in Pas-de-Calais where residents will spend the night from Wednesday to Thursday in shelters, the water having reached the level of historic November floods in places.

Floods are affecting six other departments in the north-east of France, classified on orange alert.

The Aa, a coastal river placed on red alert since Tuesday, “is generally at the same level as in November”, when it reached its highest historical level, Vigicrues tells AFP. Levels could still increase “very slightly”, but “we can consider that we are at the peak of this flood”, adds the organization.

“It’s a disaster,” says Rachid Ben Amor, mayor of Blendecques, a town crossed by the Aa, where many houses are flooded. Emmanuel Macron, with whom he spoke on the phone on Tuesday, “told him that he would delegate everything necessary”. But when ? “, he asks, saying “(expect) more resources from the State”.

With the successive floods, “I have patients who are in a terrible physical and psychological state,” worries Bertrand Rose, general practitioner in Blendecques.

“Everything is underwater,” laments Michelle Coste, 59, who cannot access her house.

“We didn’t expect it to start again so quickly.”


The village of Hallines underwater.

In this town of 5,000 inhabitants, the victims, arriving in bundles with a few things in their shopping bags and sometimes their pets, are welcomed in a basketball hall where camp beds have been set up.

Glued to their phone, Davis and Valérie Tabary follow the news from the neighbors. “Morale takes a hit,” observes Valérie, 58, tenant, who says she is ready to leave her home “depending on what the insurance companies say.” “And this time, no more flood zone, no more rivers nearby,” she assures.

A desire shared by Anita Odart, 47 years old: “We have already made the application to leave. Either in Arques or in Longuenesse, but high up,” she emphasizes, surrounded by her husband and their three children. They settled in a corner “like last time”: in November the family had already slept three nights in this gymnasium.

Road sections closed

According to the Pas-de-Calais prefecture, 371 people have had to be evacuated since the start of this new episode of flooding, including 115 since 6 a.m. Wednesday.

“The work must begin now,” insists Xavier Bertrand, president of Les Républicains de la Hauts-de-France region, who came to meet the victims in this accommodation center. “What (residents) want is for the waterways to be cleaned.”

Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological Transition, and Olivier Véran, government spokesperson, are traveling to several municipalities in Pas-de-Calais on Thursday to meet elected officials and disaster victims.

In addition to the Aa classified in red, 11 rivers in the north-eastern quarter of France are classified in orange, in Pas-de-Calais, but also the North, the Aisne, the Ardennes, the Meuse, Moselle and Meurthe-et-Moselle.

Throughout Hauts-de-France, floods are significant, leading to the closure of dozens of road sections.

Bottled water distributions are underway, with 2,100 residents deprived of drinking water on Wednesday evening, adds the prefecture.

While more than 10,000 homes were deprived of electricity on Wednesday in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais, 95% of them were replenished by the end of the day, indicated the manager of the distribution network of electricity Enedis.

Aerial images of Esquerdes, near Blendecques, reveal entire blocks of houses underwater and torrents of muddy water rushing down gardens.

In Eperlecques, another town in the Saint-Omer agglomeration, the town center is flooded, indicates the prefecture.

Four civil security pumps must be installed in the Mardyck sector (North) on Thursday. Other European pumping means “are being transported from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Netherlands to be operational on Friday”, according to the general directorate of civil security.

Further east, in Meurthe-et-Moselle, rising water levels continue on the Orne, with forecasts indicating a flood level that could exceed the historic level of 2016, according to the prefecture.


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