One disappeared as flash floods hit southern France

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The Minister of Ecology Barbara Pompili and the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin are going to the affected region today (Sunday, September 20). Severe storms and extremely heavy rains caused river banks to burst and flash floods suddenly.A person is reported missing in Gard (Occitanie) after his car was washed away by the waters of the Hérault near the town of Saint-André-de-Majencoules.

Over 400 mm of rain – the equivalent of 400 liters of rain per square meter – fell in just a few hours.

Video and photos taken by locals show the water rising and surging from the banks in seconds. In Anduze (Gard), the water was so strong that it took a van and caused serious flooding in the center of the village.

Restaurants and businesses, as well as homes, were ruined when the water reached waist height on the ground floor (warning: there is strong language in French in the video below).

Firefighters used dinghies and helicopters to assist with hundreds of emergency calls, and called on residents to stay on the upper floors of the house to avoid the potential risk of being washed away. .

The Météo France forecaster has now lifted the red and orange alerts that were in effect in the area.

The local authorities declared: “The situation is developing positively for most of the waterways in the department. [but] certain municipalities, in particular Val d’Aigoual and Saint-André-de-Majencoules, will have [separate] drink water. “

Meteorological episode

The severe weather has been attributed to what is called a “Cevennes episode“. The phenomenon takes its name from the Cévennes region, north of Hérault and Gard, and south of Lozère.

A ” Cevennes episode“Refers to a very particular type of storm and rain event observed in this part of France, explained Alix Roumagnac, hydroelectric expert, speaking to news service FranceInfo.

He said: ‘The driving force of a’Cevennes episodeis a meteorological depression. The one that is happening now brings warmth from Portugal, and entered the Iberian Peninsula slightly, then rose from the Mediterranean with very hot and humid air.

“This hot and humid air rises in the Cévennes, causing very, very heavy rains. This is what happened this morning [Sunday September 20]. »

Mr Roumagnac said the phenomenon was becoming more and more common due to rising temperatures and milder temperatures seen in winter and spring.

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