Rain and flooding: self-protection, knowing what to do

Published on Monday 27 July 2020

Crédits : L. Mignaux / Terra
Across the Mediterranean arc, rain can be particularly strong and fall very violently. When facing flooding hazard, it is essential to know the right actions.

 

Each year, the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior, sets up the prevention and awareness raising campaign to deal with rain and flooding hazard on the Mediterranean arc. This particularly exposed area is confronted by specific weather conditions, causing heavy rain every year mainly at the start of autumn. These heavy rains can cause sudden, violent flooding, of the Cévennes type, which cause a lot of damage.
 
This campaign concerns 15 departments in the Mediterranean arc: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes Maritimes, Ardèche, Aveyron, Aude, Bouches-du-Rhône, Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse, Drôme, Gard, Hérault, Lozère, Pyrénées-Orientales, Var, Vaucluse.

The goal is to make known the things to do in order to keep safe. It is also an opportunity to explain the conditions for Mediterranean rain episodes, their consequences in terms of precipitation, runoff and flooding, as well as alerts provisions.

Rain and flooding : the 8 right things to do

Rain and flooding : the 8 right things to do

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Each year, the Ministry of Ecological and Socially Inclusive Transition, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior, sets up the prevention and awareness raising campaign to deal with rain and flooding hazard on the Mediterranean arc. This particularly exposed area is confronted by specific weather conditions, causing heavy rain every year mainly at the start of autumn. These heavy rains can cause sudden, violent flooding, of the Cévennes type, which cause a lot of damage.

This campaign concerns 15 departments in the Mediterranean arc: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes Maritimes, Ardèche, Aveyron, Aude, Bouches-du-Rhône, Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse, Drôme, Gard, Hérault, Lozère, Pyrénées-Orientales, Var, Vaucluse.

Rain and flooding: getting ready

During a flood, it is recommended to stay at home and stay informed on the Vigicrues and Météo-France websites (also available on mobile phone) or by phone on 05 67 22 95 00. You must not go out in your car, even to pick up your children from school: they are safe there. Remember that less than 30 cm of water is enough to carry off a car.

In the event of a flood, the running water, electricity and telephone networks may be cut for several days. It is therefore important to prepare to live independently for a few days. The safety kit must be placed in an easily accessible place while being out of reach of the water in order to be able to recover it as quickly as possible.

The Provence Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Environment, Planning And Housing Agency (DREAL, Direction Régionale de l'Environnement, de l'Aménagement et du Logement) Interregional Mediterranean Arc Floods Mission (MIIAM, Mission interrégionale inondation arc méditerranéen) and Le Cyprès have also published a flooding self-assessment booklet. It allows you to make a situational analysis of your home’s potential flooding hazard (is my car parked in a flood zone, are my electrical outlets out of reach of the water…).

In addition to the kit, it is also important to note the useful numbers and know the alert levels.

Useful numbers to remember:

  • My town hall (contact details available on its website)
  • Fire brigade 112 or 18
  • Emergency medical services (SAMU) 15
  • Gendarmerie, Police 17

Météo France also provides an alerts map for the following meteorological and hydrological phenomena: strong wind, waves-submersion, flooding, thunderstorms, heat waves. These maps are updated at least twice a day at 06:00 and 16:00.

There are four levels of alert.

  • Red alert

There is a constant state of alert. Dangerous phenomena of exceptional intensity are expected. Keep yourself regularly informed about changes in the situation and you must comply with safety instructions issued by the public authorities.

  • Orange alert

Be very alert. Dangerous phenomena are forecast. Keep yourself informed about changes in the situation and follow the safety advice given by the public authorities.

  • Yellow alert

Be careful. If you do activities that carry specific meteorological hazard or are at risk from flooding, usual phenomena for the region, but occasionally and locally dangerous (mistral, summer storm, rising water levels...) are forecast. Keep yourself informed about changes in the situation.

  • Green alert

No particular vigilance.

Additionally, on the main waterways, Vigicrues offers specific flood alerts also with four levels of alert:

  • red: major flood hazard. Direct and widespread threat to the safety of people and property.
  • orange: flood hazard generating large-scale overflows likely to have a significant impact on community life and the safety of property and people;
  • yellow: flood hazard generating overflows and localized damage or a rapid and dangerous rise in water levels, requiring special vigilance especially in cases of at risk or seasonal activities
  • green: no particular vigilance required;

Discover our quiz (the MIIAM quiz)

Global warming and flood hazard

The climate of the Mediterranean basin is very particular. It is at the crossroads of oceanic, continental and desert climates and is characterized by frequent extreme episodes (strong winds, intense rain, drought, heat waves, etc.).
 
Among them are Mediterranean type episodes, also called Cévennes episodes. This is intense rain, rising from the Mediterranean (south-north flow), which can be blocked by the Cévennes and the Massif Central. They are particularly dangerous, causing often rapid flooding (flash floods). The thunderstorm phenomena at their origin mostly occur in autumn, when the atmosphere begins to cool while the sea is still warm.

What a Cévennes episode is

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Un épisode méditerranéen prend la forme de violents systèmes orageux qui éclatent dans les zones bordant l'Arc méditerranéen.

En seulement quelques heures ou quelques jours, il peut tomber l'équivalent de plusieurs mois de précipitations...

Caractéristiques, conséquences, formation... Ce film animé nous éclaire sur ce phénomène aux répercussions parfois dramatiques.

Climate change will most likely increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, including Mediterranean events.

Flood and risk culture

Flood hazard is the number one natural risk in France: it affects 17 million people. It is therefore essential to develop a culture of risk. The flood markers are the historic witnesses of the great past floods. Many are placed along the rivers. After the highest floods, marks were scratched or plaques were affixed to indicate the water level that was reached. A website lists the various flood markers throughout the region.

Risk culture can go hand in hand with discovering a region. For those wishing to visit the Gardons basin, a guide was produced by the Interregional Mediterranean Arc Floods Mission and Sudaléa, in partnership with the Gardons State Regional Water Agency (EPTB, Etablissement Public Territorial de Bassin) and the Gorges du Gardon mixed syndicate. It allows you to discover this magnificent space by means of walking tours, by taking an interest in the impact of the water and past floods as well as flooding hazard.

Rain and flooding communications kit for local actors

A ready-to-go communications kit is offered by the Ministry of Ecological and Socially Inclusive Transition, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior. It contains many elements to spread the message about the right things to do: posters in French and English, thumbnails for social networks, videos…

The DREAL PACA Interregional Mediterranean Arc Floods Mission (MIIAM) is also making a series of tools available to professionals such as teachers (educational kit to raise awareness of flood hazard for cycle 3 pupils) and tourism professionals. or car park managers. It offers several support guides for communities.


Crédits : MTE