France – Evacuations After Rivers Flood in South West

Flooding in southwestern France has closed roads and interrupted rail services. Hundreds of homes have experienced power outages. Several people were evacuated in areas of Toulouse, Haute-Garonne Department, where one fatality was reported.

Heavy Rain and Flood Alerts

Red alerts were issued for flooding and heavy rain in the southwest departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrenees, Haute-Garonne and Ariège on 09 January 2022.

In a 36 hours period to 14:00 on 10 January, Augirein (Ariège)saw 155.4 mm of rain, Laruns (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) 146 mm, Aulus-les-Bains (Ariège) 138 mm and Arbeost (Hautes-Pyrénées) 129.1 mm, according to Météo-France.

Rainfall in southwest France 09 to 10 January 2022. Image: Météo-France
Flood and heavy rain warnings in southwest France, 09 January 2022. Image: Météo-France

River Levels

The Salat River in Saint Girons, Ariège jumped to levels not seen for 30 years, peaking at 3.13 metres on 10 January, the highest since October 1992 (3.02 metres) and the second highest on record after the June 1875 floods (6 metres).

In Oloron Sainte-Marie, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the Gave d’Oloron river reached its second highest ever level, standing at 5.04 metres on 10 January, below the record high of 5.27 metres seen in June 2018.

Communities along the Garonne river in the Haute-Garonne Department saw some of the worst flooding. In the department capital Toulouse, the Garonne river stood at 4.31 metres as of 11 January, the highest level seen since the floods of June 2000 (4.38 metres).

Levels of Salat River in St-Lizier, Saint Girons, Ariège, France, January 2022. Image: Vigicrues
Levels of Garonne River in Toulouse, France, January 2022. Image: Vigicrues
Levels of Gave d’Oloron River at Oloron Sainte-Marie, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France, January 2022. Image: Vigicrues

Evacuations and Fatality

Over 700 university students were evacuated from a student residence in the Îles du Ramier neighbourhood in response to the rising river. Many of the students were accommodated in a local gymnasium for the evening. Also in Toulouse, flood waters reached the stadium of Toulouse Football Club.

Local media reported an elderly woman went missing and was later found dead in a flooded area in Merville near Toulouse.

Heavy rain also affected areas of Landes Department where authorities reported around 15 roads were closed due to flooding, with 3 others under supervision.

River levels are slowly falling but orange flood alerts remain in place for the departments of Gironde, Landes, Pyrénées Atlantiques, Hautes Pyrénées, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne and Tarn-et-Garonne. Authorities also warn of an increased avalanche risk in mountainous areas.

Social Media