France – Dozens Rescued From Floods in Gard After 244mm of Rain in 3 Hours

Torrential rainfall of 244 mm in just 3 hours caused flooding in parts of Gard Department in southern France on 14 September 2021. Dozens of people were rescued and one person is reported missing.

Flood rescues along the A9 motorway in Gard, France 14 September 2021. Photo: VINCI Autoroutes

Hundreds of firefighters were deployed to the area and carried out 450 interventions. The departmental government of Gard said one person is missing in the town of Aimargues after falling into the Le Rhôny river.

Around 30 people were rescued – some by helicopter – after vehicles were trapped on the A9 motorway in the communes of Langlade and Gallargues le Montueux.

At least 10 people were airlifted to safety by helicopter in the municipality of Aigues-Vives, one of the hardest hit areas. Rescues were also carried out in the towns of Uchaud, Bernis, Calvisson and Boissieres. Part of a building collapsed in Caissargues. No injuries were reported.

Gard Fire Department report that one person was injured in Vergèze. Other affected areas include the communes of Mus, Codognan and parts of the city of Nîmes.

Schools in Gard will be closed on 15 September. As of 14 September the A9 motorway was closed in both directions between Nîmes and Montpellier. Flooding and damage to railway tracks have also interrupted rail services between Nîmes and Montpellier.

Floods in Gard Department, France, 14 September 2021. Photo: Pompiers Gard

State of Disaster

France’s Interior Minster Gerald Darmanin visited some of the affected areas and expressed the government’s intention to declare a state of disaster.

The Minister said, “I give all my support to the inhabitants who have suffered these bad weather and call on them to be extremely vigilant in the coming days. The State will be reactive with a rapid recognition of the state of natural disaster.”

“I pay tribute to the more than 900 firefighters and staff of the Civil Protection who, in the face of severe weather, carried out more than 450 interventions to help our fellow citizens,” he added.

Two Months of Rain in 3 Hours

The equivalent of more than two months of rain fell on the south and west of the department in a few hours early on 15 September, in particular areas around Nîmes.

Météo-France said the intensity of the rains that hit the Nîmes area is historic. As much as 244 mm of rain fell in Saint-Dionisy in 3 hours, which statistically occurs less than once a century. “Never in the department of Gard has such an accumulation been noted,” Météo-France said.

The South East office of Météo-France said the the rains at their peak fell at a rate of 20 mm in 5 minutes at Saint-Dionisy, and totalled 276 mm in 4 hours.

This is the second such episode of intense rain in France in the last week. Nearly two months of rain fell in just a few hours in Lot-et-Garonne Department in southwestern France late on 08 September 2021.

Rainfall intensity at 5 minute intervals in Saint-Dionisy, Gard Department, France 14 September 2021. Image; Météo-France


Rainfall in the Nimes area of Gard Department, France 14 September 2021. Image: Météo-France

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