• France's news in English
'Historic' floods leave Riviera devastated
A woman gestures as cars are blocked in front of her house on Januray 20, 2014 in La Londe-les-Maures, southeastern France. Boris Horvat/AFP

'Historic' floods leave Riviera devastated

AFP/The Local · 20 Jan 2014, 11:40

Published: 20 Jan 2014 08:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2014 11:40 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Floods latest: 

  • French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited the devastated Var region on Monday and said an "immense effort" will be made to rebuild the area. 

River levels were receding early on Monday in southeastern France after "historic" floods left two people dead and more than 150 were airlifted to safety.

A third man disappeared while out on his boat and 4,000 homes have been left without power after the deluge in the department of Var, they said.

Local official Laurent Cayrel said one of the victims, a 73-year-old man, died in his basement, while the other was swept away in his car.

"The situation is very worrying, and it's not going to get any better tonight," he said on Sunday night, adding that there had been "record rainfall".

In the town of Hyeres, mayor Jacques Politi spoke of "a historic flood".

"We are at the end of the crisis," Var prefecture official  Emmanuel Dupuis said, warning however that the ground remained saturated and the slightest rain could cause further damage.

However, there may be some respite, with one local official claiming river levels were receding, while still advising caution as an orange alert was in place.

Var, which lies on the stretch of Mediterranean coast known as the Riviera popular with tourists, is known for its sunny climate.

Emergency helicopters were deployed throughout the night, with 500 fire officers and 200 police on duty.

By late Sunday, 155 people had been airlifted from the worst-hit areas and efforts to evacuate residents by boat were continuing.

One local resident told how from her home she saw a huge wave sweep her empty car away before she was evacuated by helicopter with her five-year-old daughter.

"It was really staggering," she said. "We had called the fire brigade who told us to move the furniture upstairs... We had very little time, the house flooded very quickly."

Story continues below…

The photo, tweeted below shows the devastation around the town of Fréjus in the Var department on Monday. 

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will travel to the affected area early Monday, his office said.

Late Sunday, authorities issued a separate flood alert for the river Rhone, which runs through southeastern France.

In an interview in a local paper Monday Ayrault said that a natural catastrophe announcement would soon be issued, a move which would release state funds for flood relief.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available