Torrential rains and brutal floods have left villages cut off from the world in the Alpes-Maritimes, where hundreds of firefighters are mobilized this Saturday, October 3 to find eight missing people. “Currently, we are on a balance sheet of nine people proven missing and three supposed missing”, said the firefighters of the Alpes-Maritimes.
→ MAINTENANCE. “Certain flood prevention devices might have reduced the damage”
Among those missing are two firefighters as well as two people who were allegedly swept away by the waves when their house collapsed. In the morning, a missing gendarme was found “safe and sound”. In the case of people “Supposedly missing”, the authorities have only rather vague reports, unlike other cases where witnesses or firefighters have directly seen the people carried away by the waves.
#TempeteAlex // 850 firefighters including 348 as external reinforcements will now be mobilized throughout the department to help the maralpine victims of storm Alex. Our hearts go out to the families of the missing and to two fellow firefighters. pic.twitter.com/usYUTFQIuT
– Firefighters 06 (@ sdis_06) October 3, 2020
The most affected municipalities are in the hinterland of Nice, in the Roya valleys, in the Tende area and in the Vésubie valley, landlocked in mountainous areas of the Alps. “We have many houses that have been washed away or destroyed, towns like Saint-Martin-Vésubie are cut off from the world”, said the firefighters.
Thousands of homes are without electricity
In this village of some 1,400 inhabitants where a bridge was washed away on Friday, firefighters carried out dozens of safety during the night. The telephone network is very weak, and communications very difficult. Thousands of homes are deprived of electricity, according to network manager Enedis.
→ CONTEXT. Storm Alex: the Alpes-Maritimes in red vigilance for rain and risk of flooding
Helicopters attempted to make reconnaissance in the morning but the cloudy cover prevented them from having a clear vision, although Météo-France has lifted its orange vigilance on the department and the rains are over. Many roads in the region are still cut.
“A catastrophic situation”
At the Turini pass, about ten kilometers from Bollène-la Vésubie, one of the affected localities, the road was closed due to the risk of landslide. Fire trucks, some loaded with boats were waiting for the green light before passing to go to the disaster areas of the valley. Along the road, the torn branches testified to the violence of the bad weather the day before.
“The situation is catastrophic in some municipalities”, said Eric Ciotti, deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes. Rainfall accumulations over the whole of this episode “Generally reached 200 to 350 mm and up to 500 mm occasionally”, in the hinterland, according to Météo France, which led to violent flooding of the rivers in the region.
Images of desolation in my town of Saint Martin Vésubie
Since my birth I have never seen such heartbreaking scenes.
– Eric Ciotti (@ECiotti) October 2, 2020
In Nice, also affected by strong winds and downpours, accommodation centers welcomed a few people who could not reach the valleys overnight. “Where I was, there were about 40 cars. People from all the valleys. Now people, we don’t know where they are. There are some who are on the side of the road, there are some who are in hotels. And then we meet here “, testified Grégory, resident of Touët-sur-Var, welcomed in one of these centers.
On the outskirts of the city, an impressive mudslide flows into the Mediterranean, as shown in the tweet of the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin.
– Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) October 3, 2020
→ ANALYSIS. 2019, another year of climate records
Prime Minister Jean Castex as well as the Minister of the Interior visited the Alpes-Maritimes this Saturday.