Paris on edge in the face of the flood

Paris on edge in the face of the flood

CRITICAL – Director Mathieu Schwartz recalls, in this film broadcast Thursday March 9 at 9 p.m., that rising waters remain a permanent threat to the capital. Before detailing the systems put in place to prepare for and protect against it.

Do not trust these proud black and white shots, on which elegant Parisians peacefully fix the lens. Calm, these good city dwellers were probably not. Unaccustomed to cameras, they only posed, explains geographer Magali Reghezza-Zitt, present throughout this documentary entitled When the Seine overflows. The photographs thus do not reflect the chaos that must have reigned in the capital during the forty-five days of the 1910 flood. centennial flood which, there lies the tragedy of the situation, we cannot predict the date. Warning signals will appear only a few days before. A short respite allowed by the slight drop in the areas surrounding Paris.

This worrying unknown keeps all the experts assigned to flood management in Île-de-France alert, where a control bulletin is published twice a day. This ambitious film shows the work they undertake. We had to be patient, says director Mathieu Schwartz, to meet all the stakeholders. In order not to panic the populations or for security reasons, the State services do not insist on the question. But each of these institutions has drawn up its plan in the event of a flood”assures the one who recently co-directed a beautiful archaeological documentary, Petra Expedition, on the trail of the Nabataeans.

Panic at the Louvre

The public authorities will one day find themselves faced with a difficult task: to decide whether or not to initiate the evacuation of Paris. To do it too late could be disastrous, to do it too soon, and for nothing, would be extremely expensive. There are artificial lakes, around the metropolis, to limit the level of the Seine. And a set of very effective basins will see the light of day around 2030 in Seine-et-Marne. But, for the time being, the devices will not be able to cope with heavy rains or rising water tables.
As a result, the capital gets busy. RATP employees regularly practice building walls around air vents. Those of the Louvre Museum, to repeat, must deposit sandbags along the Seine, for 170 meters. The flood of June 2016 had blown a wind of panic over Etruscan statuettes and Egyptian sarcophagi.

It is another of the qualities of this documentary to detail the experiments in progress. Hydrologists are considering, in Île-de-France, to narrow rivers so that in the event of rising waters, they can flow into the surrounding fields. An expensive maneuver, which could nevertheless prove to be profitable. In Paris, it would be wise to “permeabilize” certain streets with gravel or vegetation. So that water can penetrate the soil.

In any case, the next hundred-year flood will require the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Parisians. Those who live closest to the river. The others will suffer cuts in electricity, gas and drinking water. You probably feel protected when you live in the capitalsummarizes Mathieu Schwartz. But this is only an illusion. » The Seine is getting ready. Sorry, Yonne. If we stick, in fact, to hydrographic rules, the river that crosses Paris should have borne the name of what is today considered its tributary… A question of water flow at their point of confluence .

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