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‘Over 100mm rain in an hour’: Hérault and Gard hit by heavy downpour

The two southern French departments faced torrential rain yesterday leading to flash floods in places – they remain on storm alert today

Hérault and Gard were hit with particularly heavy downpours on September 6, leading to flash floods in Nîmes and Montpellier Pic: Gabriela Tulian / Shutterstock

The southern French departments of Hérault and Gard faced heavy rains yesterday (September 6) where over 150mm of rain fell in just a couple of hours in some parts. 

This led to flooding in places, notably Saint-Gély-du-Fesc (Hérault), just north of Montpellier. 

Both Hérault and Gard were briefly placed on red alert for rains and flooding yesterday by Météo-France, the highest alert level. 

Around 135mm of rain fell over Nîmes (Gard) in one hour, while around 70mm fell over Montpellier (Hérault). 

The red alert for Hérault and Gard has been downgraded to orange and the departments remain on this level this morning. Nine other departments in the south of the country are also on orange storm alert. They are: Ardèche, Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Rhône and Vaucluse. 

Read more: South-east France still under storm alerts after unsettled night

The storm that hit Hérault and Gard yesterday has now moved away and is over the sea. 

There were no major injuries in yesterday’s storms and damage was relatively minor. 

The Gard emergency services carried out "fifteen safety operations'', which involved providing shelter for stranded motorists. The fire brigade also carried out around fifty minor interventions in the vicinity of Nîmes, such as recovering drain covers carried away by water. 

In Montpellier, the river Lez burst its banks. 

In total, some 250 firefighters were deployed in the east of Hérault, including ten units of water rescue specialists, the prefecture stated. 

A ‘carpet of snow’ in Nièvre town 

The commune of Imphy in Nièvre found its streets covered in snow after this week’s storms. 

A 15-minute episode of rain, hail and wind left up to 20cm of icy residue on the ground, and damaged several buildings. 

At the local swimming pool, a section of the roof collapsed completely under the weight of the hailstones. When the storm began, there were still swimmers using the pool, but they were evacuated before the roof fell in. 

The post office, nursery school and several other businesses found that their basements had been flooded and some of their stock destroyed, and damage was also done to some residential roofs.

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