Wide areas of the Pas-de-Calais department in the north of France have been flooded for the second time in recent months after heavy rainfall caused rivers to rise.
Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological Transition, visited affected areas on 04 January. “I understand the exasperation, I understand the fatigue, I understand the anger and I understand the fear of reliving it again,” the Minister said.
Rivers in the north of France have been on alert since late December 2023. As of 04 January, the Aa River was at Red Alert stage (highest) while the Hem, Canche, Lys-Plaine and Lys-Amont remained at Orange level. Authorities said levels of many rivers including the Aa peaked on 03 January but will likely remain high for some time.
According to the latest report from the government of Pas-de-Calais department, around 189 municipalities have been affected by the recent flooding. At least 1,299 homes have been damaged, some of them severely, promoting the fire departments and local authorities to evacuate a total of 371 people.
Around 700 firefighters are working in the area alongside police, assisting with flood rescues, recovery and protection. As of 04 January, they had carried out almost 600 interventions. A firefighter was injured during an intervention in Aire-sur-la-Lys.
Flooding has left around 500 without electricity, mainly in Audomarois, Calaisis and Boulonnais. A further 2,100 people are affected by restrictions on water use in the municipalities of Rebreuve-Ranchicourt, Hermin, Caucourt and Gauchin-Legal. Authorities have distributed bottled water in these areas.
Around 30 homes were evacuated in Thérouanne in the last 24 hours. Evacuations or rescues were also reported in Delettes, Quernes, Lumbres, Auchy-lès-Hesdin, Aire-sur-la-Lys, Arques and Blendecques.
As many as 1,494 people were evacuated from their homes in Pas-de-Calais department in the first 2 weeks of November 2023 after heavy rain from consecutive storms caused rivers to rise. Firefighters carried out over 2,300 interventions.
President Emmanuel Macron visited the region on 14 November and promised a €50 million “support fund” for the department’s local authorities.