Southwestern France hit by devastating floods as storm batters Carcassone

Published:  16 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: France, Spain, USA, Australia, Euro
Devastating floods in France’s southwestern corner have resulted in destruction and death.

Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate, roads were washed away, hospitals were flooded and at least 13 people are known to have died after several months’ worth of rain fell in France’s Aude region during just a few hours overnight. This southwestern corner of France is popular with British expatriates as well as owners of holiday homes, many of which are in the rural areas surrounding Carcassonne. Rivers overflowed across the region and the dam above Carcassonne is in imminent danger of collapse due to the overflowing of the Aude river.

Residents in rural villages remain trapped in their homes, although almost 2,000 were evacuated at first light, and four residents in Villegailhenc died after flood water levels reached first-floor windows. Schools and hospitals are either struggling to cope or flooded, with first responders in boats attempting to rescue trapped residents and failing due to the power of the waters. Rescue helicopters are expected to begin evacuating those taking refuge on their rooftops once the weather becomes clearer. At least one river was seen to rise by over 20 feet, and overall water levels will continue to rise as rain is still falling.

Although torrential rains across the region aren’t unusual at this time in the year, climatologists are blaming warmer than usual sea temperatures for the intensifying of the rains. This year’s extreme weather in Europe isn’t just confined to France, with Hurricane Leslie’s impact on Portugal leaving hundreds of thousands without power and many injured by falling trees and flying debris.

Classified as a post-tropical cyclone, the storm smashed into Porto and Lisbon before heading on to Spain as a severe weather front. Hurricane Leslie is unusual in that the vast majority of hurricanes which first hit the US rarely last the journey across the Atlantic to Europe.
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