Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Talk about under water...Paris

With the Eastern US seaboard suffering Sandy and parts of lower Manhattan flooded I'm hoping everyone is safe. It brought to mind Paris in 1910.

 The summer had been wet, the winter even wetter, and bedraggled Parisians entered 1910 to a January of torrential downpours. The Seine already swollen,  burst its banks. Streets were inundated. Homes were under water.

One witness at the time described the scene: "Crowds had gathered on the embankments, admiring the headlong rush of the silent yellow river that carried with it logs and barrels, broken furniture, the carcasses of animals, and perhaps sometimes a corpse, all racing madly to the sea; they had watched cranes, great piles of stones, and the roofs of sheds emerge momentarily from the flooded wharves and then vanish in the swirl of the rising water."

20,000 buildings were wrecked within days and 200,000 people made homeless, the deluge brought devastation to the city on a scale not seen for centuries.

According to measurements taken at the Quai de la Tournelle, the Seine reached 8.5 metres, the highest seen since 1658. Of Paris's 20 arrondissements, 12 were flooded.

The poet Guillaume Apollinaire wrote: "On Avenue Montaigne people organised pleasure tours by boat. For two sous, you pass by the smartest hotels and photographers will take your picture as a flood victim for the sum of 50 centimes."

In the face of disaster, however, Paris squared up. Emergency services, police and charities swung into action and residents began building wooden walkways above the water. They reached the highest floors by stepladder. Ministers sailed to work by boat and worked feverishly by gaslight until the flood waters receded.

The politcian Jean Jaurès, who chastised the government in the newspaper L'Humanité: "A society whose citizens are thus at the mercy of the elements is like a house without a roof," he wrote. "In every disaster there is a lesson."

Here's to candles, books, boats and blankets
Cara - Tuesday


  1. Your pictures are pretty sobering, and the enterprise shown by the Parisians is amusing. But there is always so much destruction. Thank you for your post.

  2. Thanks, Cara, I'm sitting on my farm in Western NJ learning my lesson from Sandy: Stay on Mykonos...where there are no trees to fall on your fences or block your roads.:)

  3. Oh Jeff. Hope you're okay and your property will be fine. New Jersey really got battered.

  4. Thanks, Lil. My chainsaw and I are doing just peche-y.