France, like much of Western Europe, is experiencing one of the hottest summers on record, the result of climate change. The country is suffering from an intense drought and has seen thousands of hectares of its forests perish in the flames.
While this is happening, Paris has had to face the effects of intense rain on Tuesday, with effects such as the flooding of subway stations. This is how France deals with two sides of the climate crisis.
The town that receives water from trucks
In Seillans, in the south of France, the thousand-year-old stone fountains are empty and the taps in the houses are only kept open – up to a strict daily limit – thanks to tanker trucks, because their natural springs are dry.
As the country, like much of Europe, battles drought and record temperatures, the quaint villagers, who used to water gardens or fill pots, bathtubs and swimming pools without thinking, now have to do it all very different, explains Mayor René Hugot.
“There are some clouds from time to time, but there is no water, there is never any water, not a single drop (of rain),” he said as he sat by a dry fountain. “We’re getting a little bit desperate because the situation isn’t getting any better… (So) everyone has reduced their water consumption.”
Water usage levels are checked every week to ensure that all households in Seillans respect a per person limit of 150 liters per day.
Those who don’t have a device installed in the supply pipe that limits how much water comes out and how fast it comes out, explains Eric Martel, head of Fayence area water supply facilities. , to which Seillans belongs.
For water to reach the village and others nearby, it has to be transported from areas where the flows from the network of springs that supply the region are still strong enough to allow it to be extracted.
“It’s an exceptional situation,” Martel said, noting that there has been very little rain since last fall. “What we are worried about is next winter and spring. If it doesn’t rain then, we will be in a dramatic situation.”
Heavy rain causes problems in Paris
A strong storm that hit Paris on Tuesday afternoon caused problems in road traffic and public transport and some metro stations had to be closed or were flooded, while heavy rains were warned in southeastern France.
Among the Parisian stations affected by the waterspouts were those of Daumesnil, Alma-Marceau, Quai de la Rapé or Balard, indicated the RATP metropolitan transport entity.
In just two hours, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time, almost 46 liters per square meter were collected at the Montsouris observatory, the online weather information site Infoclimat said.
These torrential rains in Paris, which occur in the middle of a summer of extreme drought in most of France and Western Europe, could be reproduced in the next few hours in other parts of the country, particularly in the southeast, where the meteorological services Eight departments have been placed on orange alert due to the risk of storms and floods.
Météo France indicated in a bulletin that in the departments of Aude, Tarn, Aveyron, Herault, Gard, Vaucluse, Bouches du Rhone and Var the storms will be accompanied by great electrical activity, hail and heavy rainfall.
Specifically, between 20 and 50 liters per square meter could fall in less than an hour in the departments of Aude and Aveyron. In those of Hérault and Gard it could reach 80 liters and even exceed 100 to 130 liters locally.
The Prefecture (Government delegation) of Gard recommended the preventive evacuation of campsites and other open-air accommodation.
A positive point of these rains is that they are helping to reduce the forest fires that have affected the south of the country since last month.
The situation “improved considerably during the night” thanks to the rains, confirmed Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Mendousse, of the Gironde regional fire service.
“This gives us a break but it doesn’t mean the end of the fight. The ground is extremely dry,” Mendousse added.
Since Monday, some 3,000 people have been evacuated. Around 400 firefighters from Germany, Romania, Poland, Austria, Greece and Italy traveled to the area to help their French colleagues
A month ago, two gigantic fires burned almost 21,000 hectares in this area south of Bordeaux. According to satellite measurements from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), more than 60,000 hectares have burned in France this year.
With information from AFP, EFE and Reuters