Power gone with the wind

A week after disastrous floods in the Côte d’Azur, strong winds destroy weakened infrastructure

Strong winds in the Alpes Maritimes worsened the damage wrought by last weekend’s heavy rain. 10,000 homes were left without power in the department yesterday, and several roads have been closed due to fallen trees. Meanwhile, victims of last weekend’s floods continue to pick up the pieces.

The wind couldn’t have found a worse time to show up. On Sunday morning, gusts of up to 137 kilometres per hour ripped away power lines and brought down trees weakened by the heavy rains which caused an estimated six million euros of damage in the Alpes Maritimes a week ago.

Power cuts affected 10,000 homes in the department, while trees and electric poles fell on several roads in Cannes, Grasse, Roquefort les Pins, Cabris and Valbonne, according to Nice Matin. Emergency services received over 200 call outs, and traffic was restored quickly. But 450 families were still in the dark as of yesterday evening.

Train traffic was also interrupted for several hours between Cannes and Grasse after a tree fell on the tracks’ power lines.

Meteo France told The Riviera Times that the strongest winds were recorded between 5 and 7am on Sunday, reaching up to 137 kilometres per hour in the Alps. Along the coast, Pégomas and Valbonne saw gusts of up to 118 and 114 kilometres per hour, respectively, while winds in Cannes reached 83 kilometres per hour. The weather was otherwise sunny and conditions calmed down during the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, victims of last weekend’s floods in the Var are organising relief efforts on the internet, helped by charity fundraising and government aid. Prompted by Var Matin sports journalist Raphaël Coiffier, several professional sports clubs donated autographed equipment to be auctioned off. Marseille’s football team also offered to play a charity match and is currently discussing the details.

Var prefect Laurent Cayet announced 50,000 euros of government funds have been made available. Residents in the flooded areas can request individual aid of up to 150 euros per adult and 75 euros per child under 12. Business owners can also receive emergency funds of up to 1,500 euros.

According to early estimates, the damage wrought by the weather will cost the Alpes Maritimes over six million euros. 17 families in Menton, who were evacuated due to security concerns, are still homeless, Nice Matin reports. The situation is said to be even worse in the Var department, where 18 communes have applied for a natural disaster status which should enable shorter delays for compensation from insurance companies.

Adil 83, a departmental organisation for housing information, wrote a series of notes on their website, www.adil83.org, giving legal counsel to flood victims regarding housing, insurance policies and how to deal with landlords. They can also be reached at 04 94 22 65 80 or by e-mail at adil@adil83.org.

Also published on the Riviera Times Online

Photo by Rolf Liffers