June 3, 2016 by Associated Press
Flooding continued to affect parts of Europe Friday causing deaths, displacement, power outages and fear over damages to major artifacts.
Scientists say extreme rainfall, such as that hitting France, has increased worldwide and especially in Europe because of man-made climate change. Five different scientists told The Associated Press Friday that downpours like this are one of the clearest signals of global warming.
Worldwide record-breaking rainfall has increased 12 per cent from 1980 to 2010, when compared to the previous 80 years, according to a 2015 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research study published in the journal Climatic Change. In Europe, the increase was 31 per cent.
American climate scientist Chris Field says “one of the clearest signs of climate change, over much of the world, is the increase in the fraction of the rain that falls in the heaviest events.” He said that “a warmer atmosphere can hold more water. And the consequences can be traumatic, as individuals, businesses, and communities struggle to manage very heavy rains.”
Gerald Meehl, a climate scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research connected this to recent heavy rain in France and Texas.
“Heavy rains? Massive flooding? Get used to it: with climate change, this is the new normal,” added Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer.
A French official says a blocked sensor led Parisian authorities to underestimate for hours the rising waters of the swollen Seine River.
Regional environment director Jerome Goellner tells The Associated Press that a piece of trash was trapped in an underwater sensor near the Austerlitz Bridge, which measures the river’s height. He says that shaved 30 centimetres (nearly a foot) off estimates of the river’s surging levels until authorities realized what was wrong.
Officials say two people have died in the course of the flooding. France’s interior ministry said Friday that a 74-year-old man fell into a river in the Seine-et-Marne region east of Paris. He was riding a horse at the time of the accident on Thursday evening. Earlier this week, an 86-year-old woman died in her flooded home in southeast Paris.
The interior ministry says 20,000 people have been evacuated from their homes across France in operations involving thousands of firefighters, military personnel and other officials.
Energy company Enedis says that more than 20,000 customers are without power in the wake of days of flooding and heavy rains. The company says that the blackouts Friday are concentrated in the departments of Seine et Marne and Essonne to the east and south of Paris, respectively.
Paris City Hall is shutting some parks and cemeteries and is opening gymnasiums to shelter homeless people amid floods that city authorities say could take weeks to recede.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo said authorities are taking emergency measures because of dangers that trees weakened by rising water levels could fall on passers-by. Hidalgo said authorities are monitoring basements and garages at risk of flooding from rising groundwater. She said the floods are already hurting the city economy, but no residents have been evacuated yet.
The Louvre Museum is closed Friday as staff work to remove artworks from rooms threatened by the rising waters. The operation to remove artwork from the Paris museum’s lower stories has attracted worldwide interest amid flooding which sent the Seine’s waters rising to their highest levels in roughly 35 years. Other museums and cultural institutions have also been closed across France, including the renowned castles of Chambord and Azay-le-Rideau.
Louvre Director Jean-Luc Martinez said the museum’s artwork was in no immediate danger but that the museum needed about 72 hours of lead time to begin evacuating its reserve, which he said comprises about 250,000 pieces of art. Asked when the Louvre would reopen, he said: “We can’t say yet.”
President Francois Hollande has said that a “natural disaster” will be formally declared next week in a Cabinet meeting for areas most affected by the flooding that has hit Paris and France’s central regions.
The country’s environment ministry said the Seine had not reached such levels since 1982. Waters continue to rise even as the rainfall tapers off. The Seine River is expected to reach its highest level later Friday.
Officials say they’ve recovered the body of a sixth person who died in this week’s flooding in Bavaria near the Austrian border.
Authorities say the 65-year-old man’s body was found overnight in the town of Simbach am Inn, which was inundated on Wednesday. Now that flood waters have receded in the area, the search continues for other missing people. Local police told the dpa news agency Friday that they were still trying to locate an elderly couple in Simbach.
In all, that brings the total of people killed in flooding over the last week in Germany to 10 including four in Baden-Wuerttemberg, to Bavaria’s west, in flooding that hit Sunday and Monday.
The German Insurance Association estimates this week’s flooding has caused some 450 million euros ($500 million) in damage in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg alone.
The agency, which represents some 460 member companies, said Friday that in addition to the costs for insured houses and contents, there would also be many payments for damaged vehicles and businesses, the dpa news agency reported.
Baden-Wuerttemberg was hit by the flooding first early in the week. Areas of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, which are not in the cost estimate, also suffered damage later in the week.
Authorities say that two people have died and 200 people have been evacuated from their homes as floods swept parts of eastern Romania.
The interior ministry said 7,000 firefighters, police and others had been dispatched overnight Friday to help in flood rescue efforts.
Rescue workers in Belgium have found the body of a beekeeper who was swept away by rising waters while trying to protect his hives.
The man was reported missing in the village of Harsin on Thursday. Local authorities said the man, in his 60s, was found on Friday morning after fire department divers resumed the search for him.
After days of strong rains, the Wamme river overflowed its banks and flooded several villages in the Belgian province of Luxembourg. Homes were inundated and cars carried away by the high waters.
This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.