Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paris flood of 1910-when Paris looked like Venice

Rue de Seine
Photo: Chevojon/BHV (G Leyris)

On January 21 1910, the waters of the seine river started to rapidly rise above normal levels following weeks of heavy rainfalls. Heavily saturated soil could not hold any more moisture thus provoking runoffs in the seine tributaries-the Marne and Yvonne and other streams. The massive volume of water reached the Seine which grew rapidly.  Overnight, it jumped ten feet above normal reaching up to the shoulders of the Zouave (a statue of a soldier under the Alma bridge). The water of the Seine started to  overflow Paris ' sewers and seep into subway tunnels, basements and cellars.  Paris streets soon turned into a lagoon. Ground floor apartments were submerged by the muddy waters while many Parisians were trapped in upper floor dwellings.  Rescuers and those who needed to go out for food supplies or to get to work used canoes and improvised rafts; a network of elevated wooden footbridges were hastily put together to keep pedestrians dry.  In the devastated city, Parisians rallied to help each others and keep the city functioning.  The flood lasted about 10 days but it's memory is still present in the Parisian's consciousness. When you wander around Paris streets today your are often reminded of this event when you see  a black mark on a building indicating where the water reached in that winter over 100 years ago.  I recommend an interesting read "Paris Under Water -How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910" by Jeffrey Jackson.  

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