Thursday, 25 February 2010

Floods in Paris

Rowing down the road

One hundred years and one month ago saw record floods in Paris.  Between 20 and 28 January 1910, the levels of water measured at the Austerlitz Bridge were at record levels, reaching almost 8 metres (over 26 feet) above normal.  Previously there had been floods in 1658 and 1740, both measured at the Tournelle Bridge which was damaged in 1910.

It was caused by a combination of factors:
  • an exceptionally wet final quarter of 1909 (two minor floods had already been recorded),
  • saturated land, then frozen
  • simultaneous flooding of the Seine tributaries.

It wasn't merely a case of 20,000 houses and buildings being flooded, but normal activities were paralysed, electricity and gas supplies were cut, transport severely disrupted, rubbish had to be dumped into the river.

Shovelling up the rubbish
They estimate the damage would be 1.6 billion Euros in modern terms.  It wasn't until 16 March that the river receded to its normal levels.

This could very easily happen again because the whole region around Paris is at the heart of the heart of three major river confluences - Seine/Yonne, Seine/Marne and Seine/Oise.  Since the 6th century there have been 60 major floods.  Although there have been none in the last 50 years, apart from 1982, there were 10 between 1910 and 1960.  By the law of averages, one is due.

The postcard images are from the Postaletrice Flickr account where there are many more.
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  1. Oh my, 26 feet above normal? That's terrible. Something should be done now as a preventative measure.

  2. Interesting read of the historical background and also king of scaring about this year.

    Very nice photos though - thanks for sharing!

  3. I didn't know about this historical disaster. I never think of the Seine as being anything but placid. I can't really imagine it happening again, but the odds are it will, as you say. A very interesting post!

  4. @Joanne, they do have considerable defences now, but if the waters rise as they did in Prague and Dresden a few years ago, there is little that can be done. Of course with the increasing population still concentrated in that area, the results are likely to be dramatic.

    @Renny, you're right, interesting and scary.

    @Max, even the normally placid can change.

  5. We had floods last year and i thought nobody should go through that.But this was even worse i wonder how did people manage.These pics are awesome but they give such a real like peek into the past.Great Pics

  6. Great photos, thanks. We forget quite quickly abotu the disasters of the past; if only we could learn! 20/20 hindsight.


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