IN mid-2016 the River Seine in central Paris burst its banks. It rose to 6.1 metres, briefly closed the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, disrupted trains and affected businesses and homes. The cause: intense rainfall in much of western Europe, which led to the worst flooding in the city for 34 years. Now the waters are back. By January 29th the river had reached the 5.8 metre-mark, causing similar disorder. Some 1,500 people have been evacuated from their homes. Rats are fleeing sewers. Locals at one vulnerable spot downstream from the city, Ile de Migneaux, told a newswire, L’Agence France-Presse, that they have endured eight swampings in two decades. Are such floods becoming more common, and more disruptive, in Paris?
No flood in the past century has come close to matching the one of January 1910, when the Seine rose to 8.6 metres, overwhelming sewerage systems and making canals of many streets. It took until March for the waters to recede. (And even that does not match 1658, when the river surpassed 8.9 metres.) By tradition Parisians measure...Continue reading