Flash floods kill 13 in southwest France after major rainfall

Flash floods killed 13 people in southwest France Monday morning, mostly in the town of Trebes, officials said.

Firefighters wade through several feet of water Monday to rescue people trapped by flash floods in Trebes, France. Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA-EFE
Firefighters wade through several feet of water Monday to rescue people trapped by flash floods in Trebes, France. Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA-EFE

The storm dumped several months worth of rain in a matter of six hours, forecasters said. Several others were injured and at least one was reported missing.
The storm left behind overturned cars, damaged roads and collapsed houses. It’s believed to be the worst flood in the area since 1891.

French Prime Minister Edouard Phillppe announced that he would visit Aude Monday “as soon as conditions allow it.”

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Phillippe also tweeted that 350 firefighters are in place and another 350 are on the way. Seven helicopters have also been deployed.

All schools are closed in the area.

Elizabeth Dale said she’s stuck on the wrong side of the river.

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“It’s been raining again and police are stationed on bridges and only allowing emergency vehicles to cross,” Dale told The Local. “It does [look] like the water levels are dropping but who knows what will happen in the next few hours.”

This type of weather is unusual in France in October, but meteorologists say warmer ocean water ahead of Tropical Storm Leslie could be to blame. Leslie has already passed over Portugal and Spain.

One of the victims was an elderly nun who got swept away by floodwaters.

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More rain was forecast for Monday.

Aude prefect Alain Thirion said the equivalent of five months of rain fell in the area.

“We have about 15 communes in a delicate situation,” Thirion told The Local.

Two bodies from the same car were found Thursday morning in the south of France.

ByNicholas Sakelaris