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Seine Overflows its Banks as More Rain Predicted in France

Seine Overflows its Banks as More Rain Predicted in France

Wednesday, 24 January, 2018 - 10:30
View of the flooded banks of the River Seine near the Eiffel tower in Paris, France, after days of almost non-stop rain caused flooding in the country, January 23, 2018. (Reuters)

Flooding continued across France on Wednesday, while an overflowing River Seine in Paris disrupted some train services.

Rivers continued to swell in the country amid heavy rain, while forecasters expected the situation to continue until the weekend. Despite a weather pick up in large parts of the country, more rain is expected on Thursday.

Meteo France, the national weather agency, said 23 departments remained on orange alert, the second highest level of vigilance, urging people to limit their movement and to stay vigilant.

In the southeastern Paris suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, which is crossed by both the Seine and its Yerres tributary, local mayor Sylvie Altman said soldiers will be deployed to help evacuate the population. Police forces and fire brigades were already on site, patrolling flooded streets on small boats.

Altman told France Info radio that water levels were expected to keep rising until Friday.

"We should get military trucks to help us evacuate and make people move along," she said.

West of Paris, the Seine burst its banks in some spots and spread to almost twice its usual breadth between the towns of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Le Pecq. The area is well downstream from Paris.

On Wednesday, the Paris authorities suspended river traffic and closed several rail stations serving tourist destinations including the Eiffel Tower and Musee d‘Orsay as relentless rains swelled the Seine’s levels.

Fire crews evacuated houseboats amid worries they could break the moorings as the river rose a further 40 cm overnight to reach 4.92 meters (16.14 ft), with forecasts showing the Seine’s level could peak at around 5.70 meters on Saturday, Paris police said.

In 2016, several people died and the French capital’s famous Louvre museum moved scores of artworks and precious artifacts to safety when the Seine rose to just over 6 meters. Flood damage in the city then cost about 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion).

Six meters is still well below the level where it would pose danger to residents. The river reached a record high of 8.6 meters in 1910, when thousands of Parisians had to flee flooded low-lying areas of the city.

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