Floods: the Charente kept on orange alert, after a flood peak on Sunday

The peak of the Charente river, which remained on orange alert on Monday December 18, was reached on Sunday shortly after 7 p

Floods: the Charente kept on orange alert, after a flood peak on Sunday

The peak of the Charente river, which remained on orange alert on Monday December 18, was reached on Sunday shortly after 7 p.m. – at 6.09 meters – before the water began a slow ebb which should continue until at Christmas, according to Vigicrues.

In Saintes, a regularly flooded town, “a thousand houses” were affected and around “a hundred and fifty people” evacuated, the mayor, Bruno Drapon, told Agence France-Presse. This is less than during the last flood episode, in February 2021 (six hundred evacuations), the population having anticipated the situation more: residents left their homes on their own after raising the furniture on the ground floor. roadway and cut off the electricity.

The water level has therefore not reached the 6.18 meters measured in 2021, nor the historic flood of December 23, 1982, when the Charente rose to 6.84 meters in Saintes.

The weather forecasts for the coming days are favorable for the recession, but this promises to be slow, centimeter by centimeter, the slope of the Charente being very slight in this sector. Reason why “we will maintain the security system until the Christmas weekend,” added Mr. Drapon. In the flooded streets of his city, the sidewalks were raised with concrete blocks and planks to allow residents to move around, while boats and kayaks allowed residents to move around.

Waterlogged soils

More than a hundred firefighters were mobilized. No casualties were reported. A Christmas market was moved and, on Thursday, the 142 inmates of the Saintes remand center were evacuated to other penitentiary establishments, as in 2021.

“Before, we had floods every thirty years, now the worry is that it repeats itself with frequent floods, there is perhaps a climate change that must be taken into account,” pointed out Mr. Drapon. In November, the Charente had already overflowed without “the water entering the houses”. But new heavy rainfall, when the water tables overflowed and the soils were waterlogged, this time brought it out of its bed.

Some residents had just “rebuilt their homes following the 2021 flood,” lamented the prefect of Charente-Maritime, Brice Blondel, on Sunday. He assured that “the state of natural disaster” will be requested “fairly quickly, to allow insurers to mobilize very quickly and provide rapid responses to victims who are legitimately tired of the repetition of these [floods] and who are going to spend Christmas with their feet in the water.”

Upstream of the river, in Cognac, the situation is “stabilized”, with two hundred houses affected and no evacuations. The water had only receded a few centimeters on Sunday evening, according to Vigicrues. The Charente reached 7.59 meters at its highest in this city, as in February 2021, higher than the 7.16 meters in 2007, but lower than the 8.45 meters in 1982.