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Paris warned: bigger floods will happen


With last week's flooding of the Seine past its worst, experts say, Paris should not be breathing easy, because worse flooding lies ahead in future years, possibly as bad as the great flood of 1910.

Four years ago, Serge Garrigues, then secretary of the Paris Defense Zone warned that “We will have a '100-year-flood'. That’s for sure. The only question is when. A really big flood would last between 10 and 20 days, during which time we wouldn’t be able to do anything, except survive. And any return to normal couldn’t be expected before 45 days."

The same year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development put Paris on its list of world cities most at risk from a catastrophic flood, and said the risk was larger because the city is not sufficiently prepared. The OECD pointed out that many of the city's key assets are located in the most flood-prone areas.

The image above is a computer-generated map, prepared by the Institute of Urban Planning, of what such a flood might look like. Note that only part of the Tuilieries Gardens, at the right are above water; the islands in the river are actually the non-submerged parts of bridges. Large parts of the Champs Elysees would be flooded. Below, a Google Maps image of the area as it is.


Authorities have made some preparations and carried out large-scale drills in the past few years, but OECD and others say it's not yet enough. For more images of what a flood might look like, including video, see


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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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The River Seine drains an area of about 30,000 square miles. When it rains for weeks - almost non-stop - anyone who lives near a natural River knows what to expect. "Experts" just like to add to the misery. Does someone pay these people ?

Actually, part of the problem is that the Seine, like many others, is no longer a "natural" river. It's had its banks turned into walls, its flood plains turned from farms to cities, and more. And that requires, yes, experts to figure out how we can live with that when it rains.

In the U.S., we have a similar issue with the Mississippi River, which has been so altered that floods that once spread over wide areas of land or were contained in marshy areas, and which fed fresh soil to farms and forests, became a threat to cities all along its route. In recent years, along parts of the river, steps have been taken to divert floodwaters to areas set aside for that, and other measures.

And I certainly hope the experts are being paid enough to attract top talent!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

One flood management project - close to me - was deemed to be unviable as its cost of £26 million was beyond the value of the damage that might be incurred.

The local population ( not experts in London ) whose homes were at risk designed a system of releasing pressure points for the flood water at under £1 million.

During recent floods the knowledge of locals has been proven to give greater value than University Educated "experts"

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