CLEAR-UP operations have started after violent rainstorms in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Alpes-Maritimes saw mudslides, rivers bursting their banks and cars swept away.
Hundreds of firefighters and council workers are pumping out flooded buildings and cellars – work which is expected to take another 48 hours. Riverbanks and bridges have also to be cleared of hundreds of tonnes of debris swept down in the floods.
The town of Sainte-Maxime in the Var was hardest hit by the storms at the tail of last week and the mayor said it had been like a “tsunami” sweeping down on the village.
Nearly 200 cars were swept away or flooded, including 45 in an underground car park. The tide of water and mud uprooted trees, wiped out mobile homes and containers, flooded cellars and damaged industrial and commercial units. About 40 people had to be put into temporary accommodation.
Interior minister Brice Hortefeux has ordered up to €1million of aid to be made available.
The storms also damaged areas of Fréjus and Montoroux in Var, and Cannes and Mandelieu in Alpes-Maritimes with the train line between Marseille and Miramas being blocked by a mudslide.
Bayonne in the Pays Basque was also badly affected with both rail and road networks disrupted. Météo-France said 267mm of rain fell on the city, most of it in three hours.