Northern France to Declare 250 Municipalities in State of Natural Disaster
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that around 250 municipalities in northern France will be declared in a state of natural disaster due to massive flooding. This announcement comes as Macron visited the affected areas on Tuesday and expressed fears of further rises in the water level.
These communities in the Pas-de-Calais and Nord departments have been subjected to heavy rain, rivers breaking their banks, and floods. The water levels are expected to rise further in the coming days, even before some residents have been able to return to their homes.
Macron stated that every municipality that has requested it will be declared in a state of disaster, including 214 in the Pas-de-Calais department and around 30 in the Nord. The government has also pledged to grant access to a 50-million-euro ($54 million) support fund for affected towns and villages.
The region has faced a series of weather-related challenges, including the effects of Storm Ciaran on November 2, record water levels in rivers on November 7, and heavy rain on Thursday and Friday. The Pas-de-Calais department is currently under an orange alert from weather authority Meteo France for heavy rains and flooding.
Schools in 279 municipalities have been closed for the second consecutive day. Jean-Christophe Castelain, the deputy mayor of Blendecques, described residents as being “very worried, upset, and on edge” and expressed concern for the 50 people still sheltering in the town’s shelter space.
The Red Cross in the Pas-de-Calais is setting up shelters again around the nearby town of Saint-Omer, and the Nord department has reported 10,000 cases of flood damage and 1,391 evacuations since November 6. Additionally, the food aid group Les Restos du Coeur has issued an urgent appeal for food donations and volunteers to distribute clothing, blankets, and other supplies.
Local residents and officials have expressed gratitude for Macron’s visit to the affected areas, but have also emphasized the need for immediate action to address the ongoing crisis. The government’s response to the flooding and the provision of support to affected communities will likely remain in focus as the situation continues to develop.