There are several things that you don’t want to have when you are a long way from home. One of them is an email saying, “Sorry to hear about the massive flooding where you are, is your house ok?” And that is exactly what happened to us last Sunday when we were visiting family in the UK. So although we were going to continue with an account of our recent holiday, we thought we needed to put a little weather break in.
We presume most of you saw on the news that there was a terrible storm on the Côte d’Azur, particularly severe around the Cannes area. At least 20 people died, mostly through drowning. Local officials were quoted as saying that a month’s rain fell in the space of two hours. Property and cars were destroyed and numerous people had to be rescued from various campsites. The Daily Mail posted some particularly striking pictures of the damage, including many flooded cars and roads torn up by the water. Though this area is seen as rich, it was mostly ‘ordinary’ people who were affected; the government has now declared 32 communes to be a natural disaster area, starting the long process of insurance claims.
One or two of the comments in the news seemed to be on the lines that it seemed to be a little unfair that, having hosted the premieres of so many disaster movies, parts of Cannes were now a disaster area. Was nature imitating art?
With Chris so heavily involved in the big climate conference in Paris at the end of November, it would be very tempting to make this a rant about climate change. The trouble is, it’s very hard to prove. What can be said, however, is that a major factor was clearly the extraordinary concreting over of the Côte d’Azur in the last fifty years, which means that water has got nowhere to go to except roads and people’s basements.
To return to us, the moment we had the email, we were on the phone to our neighbour. One of the things French phrasebooks don’t teach you is how to discuss floods on the phone. But she was generally reassuring and so it proved to be when we returned on Tuesday night. Fortunately, and it’s probably not dramatic enough to call it a miracle, about three weeks ago we’d had a short and intense rainstorm in Taradeau which had exposed a leak in our main room. A brief examination of the roof – and an awful lot of the southern type of French roofs are only notionally watertight – showed where the water was getting in. We called in our trusty Polish builder (yes we have them here too), who did a great repair job that stood us in good stead last weekend.
And if you remember the dramatic pictures of Chris on the roof at Courmettes last year, you’ll be pleased to know that it weathered the storm well. Things are progressing well there!