Flash flooding in south west France after record rainfall

Two months' rainfall fell in just three hours on one town in south west France, leading to flash flooding as storms hit the country.

Flash flooding in south west France after record rainfall
Firefighters rescued around 20 people from the flooded town. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP

Agen in the Lot-et-Garonne département recorded 129.6mm of rain in less than three hours, the highest ever recorded in the town, according to French weather forecaster Météo France.

The rainfall led to flooding 2m deep in streets, homes and cellars.

Many garages flooded after the storms. Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

Local fire and rescue chiefs said that 300 firefighters had been called to the town and 20 people rescued, adding that there were no reported injuries.

“I lost everything in my garage, my car was covered right up to the engine, I’ve never seen flooding like this. I’ve already had 10cm of water, but this is the first time I’ve had a metre,” local resident Yves, whose garage was completely flooded, told French TV channel BFM.

Flood waters in the streets after heavy rain in Agen. Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

“It happened very quickly, in ten minutes, everything was flooded,” added Mathieu, who saw almost a metre of water in his house.

A total of 32 départements had been placed on alert for storms on Wednesday as the late summer heatwave broke in dramatic fashion, with a large band of storms and heavy rain passing over the centre of the country.

More than 3,000 lightening strikes were detected in Lot-et-Garonne on Wednesday evening, according to l’Observatoire français des orages et tornades (French observatory of storms and tornadoes) while in neighbouring Dordogne firefighters also reported flooding and falling trees.

Between 200 and 300 households were also left without electricity.

Météo France said that although the storms had largely passed over, bad weather would persist on Thursday in parts of the south west.

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South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.