France assesses flood damage

2012-10-21 14:10

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Toulouse - A massive cleanup was under way in the French pilgrimage town of Lourdes on Sunday as firefighters pumped water from its famed Catholic sanctuaries after flooding forced the evacuation of hundreds of pilgrims.

The waters from days of non-stop rain in the region had begun to recede but the main places of worship remained closed to the public.

Thierry Castillo, the custodian of the sanctuaries, told AFP that the estimate of the damages ran into "hundreds of millions of euros."

Pope Benedict XVI evoked the flooding at a special mass on Sunday in the Vatican where he named seven new saints, saying: "Let us turn to the Virgin Mary with a thought for Lourdes, the victim of flash floods which inundated the grotto where the Madonna had appeared."

The national weather service lifted the "orange alert" for rain that it had issued for the area, but left in place an "orange warning" for floods.

"The waters rose between 22:00 and 02:00, but less than Saturday morning. The floods are currently receding. Things are returning to normal. There's no major worry anymore," said David Ribeiro, a sub-prefect of the region, told AFP.

Millions of visitors

Several areas in the town, including a grotto which attracts millions of visitors annually, were inundated on Saturday as the river Gave de Pau burst its banks, leading to the closure of the main places of worship.

Many of the pilgrims are drawn by the spring waters of the shrine, which the devout believe can heal and even work miracles.

Buses ferried guests from all the hotels in the lower town to a conference centre and a sports complex on Saturday. Two campsites were also evacuated and several roads closed in Lourdes, where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared to peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous in a cave in 1858.

The water was around 1m deep in front of the grotto and 80cm in the avenue du Paradis, where most of the hotels for pilgrims are located, after what officials said was the worst flooding in 25 years.

On Sunday, the waters had receded from the streets but in many places left mud and slush up to 10cm high.

Badly damaged

The body supervising the sanctuaries said a hydro-electricity unit providing power to the shrines had been badly damaged as well as two pedestrian walkways on the side of the river.

"There has been serious damage," said Castillo, the custodian of the sanctuaries, adding that the electricity unit had been battered "by two tree trunks transported by the Gave de Pau."

Entry to the sanctuaries was barred, and many visitors voiced disappointment, like Laura Generini, an Italian who turned 39 on Sunday.

"I hope I will be able to pray at the grotto before I leave," said Generini, who came from Florence.

Others were undaunted.

"We will return in spring," said Eric Alves d'Olivera, from the southern French city of Montpellier.

Shops hawking souvenirs were however open on Sunday, and some owners complained that the reaction to the flash floods was too heavy-handed and hurt their business.

"There is great panic over something not that big. We have seen worse like in 1982," said Lise Aldaz, who owns a souvenir shop.

"Luckily this came at the end of the season," she said. "It's sad for the people, especially the foreign visitors."

Read more on:    france  |  floods
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.