The river Seine is rising, rising, rising, and experts say the worst is yet to come. May was the rainiest month on record in France since the record was set in the late 1800s, and the rivers that flow into the Seine had already burst their banks and flooded towns north of Paris. Earlier this year, a massive flood simulation exercise was undertaken in the city as preparation for the next big flood event. see, the Seine has a big flood about once every hundred years, and the last big one was in 1910, when much of the city lay under water. Hopefully things won't get that bad this time around, but with more rain forecast, anything could happen.
I live in the 16th arrondissement, walking distance from the Pont de Grenelle, where the Statue of Liberty stands. On Wednesday I took some photos of that area, but today I noticed the area where the road was only partially under water has been flooded to the extent that city employees are building a concrete wall to keep the water from reaching higher ground. The most recent update is that Paris is on Red Alert, the highest emergency alert. It was Orange yesterday. Apparently the river has reached 19ft., the highest level in over 30 years.
Parisians mark the rising levels by the Zouave, a statue at the base of the Pont de l'Alma. On Wednesday his feet were under water. I stopped by this morning to snap a few pics and he was waist deep. During the famous 1910 flood, the river made it to his shoulders.
The RER C, which runs through my neighbourhood, has been shut down along most of its route. Authorities are preparing to block entrances to other metro routes in danger of flooding. And in a truly surprise move, the Louvre and Orsay museums are closed today, moving their reserve collections from their basements to higher ground. Many parks and cemeteries, including the famous Pere LaChaise and Bois de Boulogne are closed as well. City workers are out all over the city erecting barriers to keep water out, as well as helping secure boats along the river, who are now sitting almost at street level.
Today I took a walk all the way into the city to the Hotel de Ville and snapped some photos along the way. They aren't edited and so they aren't perfect, but they are an honest depiction of what's going on in Paris today. Scroll for more photos with captions.
These are just a few images of the destruction the Seine is causing along the banks of the river. So far it's been mostly roads and walkways along the river's edge that have been immersed, but there are areas where entire cars have been swallowed. More rain is in the forecast, but hopefully the water recedes without breaching the upper levels where shops and apartments would be affected. If you live in Paris or are visiting the area, please don't jump barriers or treat too close to the river's edge. The water is moving extremely fast and there are all sorts of sharp objects being carried along by the current. Stay safe!