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Flood alerts remain as French river levels rise

The Charente is expected to peak at about 6.2 metres sometime on Monday as rivers in seven departments continue to rise, experts warn

Seven departments of France remain on orange alerts for flooding, as experts warn that flood waters continue to rise along several French rivers.

Forecasters at Meteo-France lifted a warning in Landes early on Monday, February 8, but maintained the orange alert level - the second highest - for Charente, Charente-Maritime, Maine-et-Loire, Oise, Saône-et-Loire, Seine-et-Marne and Somme.

'Significant floods [are spreading] very slowly in the Charente basin' warned floods watchdog Vigicrues in its latest bulletin, adding that high levels in the Somme, downstream areas of the Oise and the Saône in the Chalon sector, as well as downstream Marne were also cause for concern.

The Charente is expected to peak at about 6.2 metres sometime on Monday, forecasters said. Some 22 communes in the Charente-Maritime have been hit by flooding, including 14 in and around Saintes, where some 530 residents have already been evacuated.

In total, 22 communes of Charente-Maritime are directly affected by the floods, including 14 in the sector of Saintes, the sub-prefecture of the department.

The record height for the river is 6.84m, reached in 1982. Then-President François Mitterrand visited Saintes by boat in 1994, when the river reached 6.67m.

Anyone hoping for a little respite from the weather will be disappointed as, after the heavy rain and flooding of recent days, freezing temperatures and snow are forecast for large parts of the country this week as winter returns with a bang. 

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