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Roads blocked and homes evacuated as heavy rain hits southern France

The department of Hérault is still under a weather warning for floods after receiving 426mm of rainfall over the weekend

The river Orb in Hérault burst its banks over the weekend as heavy rain hit the department Pic: Viktor Gladkov / Shutterstock

Homes were evacuated, trees blown over, roads blocked and a man rescued as nearly 50cm of rain fell in the department of Hérault over the weekend. 

The department is still on a yellow weather warning for flooding, after an orange Météo France alert came to an end earlier this morning.

Over the weekend, a so-called ‘Mediterranean episode’ brought with it 426mm of rainfall, causing the river Orb to burst its banks. In Béziers, the river reached 12.43m, higher than the historic flood of November 2014.

Last night (Sunday, March 13), Béziers’ fire and rescue teams stated that they were carrying out evacuations of around 35 homes in the town, around the Plaine Saint-Pierre area. Some 26 horses and 13 ponies also had to be evacuated from the Eperon biterrois equestrian centre. 

On Saturday evening, an aquatic rescue crew saved a man who had become trapped in the water on a closed road, and was suffering from hypothermia. 

Other than these incidents, no one has been hurt as a result of the flooding.

With winds of up to 110km/h blowing between Sète and Montpellier, several trees were uprooted and various roads were closed to the public.

Today (March 14), the river has fallen by 50cm and the rain has abated, although Météo France forecasts some showers over the course of the day. 

“It has been years since we have seen anything like this, even if we are somewhat accustomed to floods,” said Béziers mayor Robert Ménard yesterday.

“At this stage, it is not just roads which are blocked off and fields under water, but houses which are threatened.”

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