Landslides, floods and power cuts hit southern France with storms

Hundreds of rescues have been carried out by fire and rescue services across several departments including the Gard and Hérault

16 September 2021

Montpellier was battered by a sudden hailstorm yesterday afternoon as the storm moved east. Pic: Andrey Solovev / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

The southern French departments of Gard, Hérault and Cantal have been hit by flooding, landslides and electricity outages as storms swept across the region in the last 48 hours.

Nine people have died after venturing into the Mediterranean, where the adverse weather conditions were producing strong currents and powerful waves. 

Around 16:00 yesterday (September 15) afternoon, Gard, Hérault, Ardèche, Isère, Drôme, Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Ain were under orange weather alerts for storms, heavy rain and flooding. 

They are all still under a yellow alert – along with 30 other southern and eastern departments – which means that people should be “aware” of the weather conditions and perhaps avoid any activities that may put them at risk during a storm. 

Hailstorms in Hérault 

In Montpellier, the storm arrived yesterday afternoon in a half-hour burst of rain, wind and hail, the sky lit up by lightning. The weather system soon moved east towards Lunel, but not before leaving 2cm of hailstones on the streets of Montpellier. 

Over 100 rescues in Gard

As of 22:00 on Wednesday, Gard’s firefighters had carried out 1,280 operations linked to the storms, including 57 airlift rescues and 86 other rescues. Crews were particularly busy in the south of the department and around Nîmes. 

Gard’s firefighters remained mobilised overnight as a precautionary measure. 

By Wednesday evening, the prefecture reported that over 1,000 people – especially in Nîmes, Vergèze and Milhaud – were still without electricity. 

Several bodies of water, including the Vistre river, are still under a yellow alert for flooding according to the river level monitoring service, Vigicrues

Gard’s prefect Marie-Françoise Lecaillon has encouraged people to avoid streams and rivers across the whole of the department. 

Part of the RD104 between Le Cailar and Vauvert is still flooded and some repair work is being carried out on other departmental routes, but in general Gard’s road network has reopened. For exact details, please consult the Inforoute Gard website. 

The latest information from SNCF states that train services are still disrupted between Nîmes and Lunel, as well as the lines between Toulouse and Agen, Auch and Latour. Replacement bus services are being offered to affected passengers. 

Road blocked in Cantal 

In the Cantal department of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, part of the D680 between Puy-Mary and Falgoux was made completely impassable on Wednesday afternoon by a landslide. 

Clearing the road will take a week or more according to Cantal’s land management director, Marc Delort.

Related stories 

Meteo-France will give certified proof of a storm for insurance claims

Danger of hidden currents for sea swimmers in southwest France

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