June 2016 – PARIS, France – Heavy rains in France lifted the Seine River on Friday to its highest levels since 1982, threatening Paris’ cultural institutions and soaking much of the French countryside east of the capital. The Seine has continued to swell since the river burst its banks on Wednesday, raising alarms throughout the city. As of 10 p.m. on Friday, its waters had reached 20 feet. The river was expected to crest in the evening at about 21 feet, and to remain at high levels throughout the weekend, the French Environment Ministry said in a statement.
“The situation is still evolving hour per hour,” a deputy mayor of Paris, Colombe Brossel, said at a news conference at City Hall, adding that the authorities estimated that it would take at least a week or two for the water to recede to normal levels, which are typically three to six feet above the standard reference point for measuring the height of the river.
Near the Cathedral of Notre Dame, pieces of tree trunks floated along the swollen river. The waters had risen to the waistline of the Zouave, a notable statue next to the Pont de l’Alma that has traditionally been used as a gauge of the Seine’s levels. The city’s government urged residents to move valuables out of their basements. An art collection had to be removed from the city hall in Ivry-sur-Seine, a southeastern suburb of Paris, for safekeeping.
“Around the Eiffel Tower, the banks are flooded,” said Julien Rogard, 23, an engineer who takes the No. 6 Metro line, which crosses over the Seine on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. “Where we usually can walk, we can’t anymore.” Vanessa Colnot, 39, who lives in Choisy-le-Roi, a southeastern suburb of Paris, said she had watched from her windows as the waters rose for two days. “My baby sitter lives in the flooded area,” she said. “People have started to leave their homes because there is water in the streets, and they don’t want to stay if it means wearing rain boots inside.”
The Seine has not overflowed this much since December 1982, when it rose to about 20 feet, but the river’s level is still short of the 26.2 feet reached in the catastrophic flood of January 1910. Parisians and tourists thronged to take photos of the swollen Seine, prompting a warning from Ms. Brossel, who said: “There are still people going on the riverbanks to take pictures. It is not safe. We are asking you to respect the ban on going there.” –NY Times