France Extreme Weather Event

Xynthia—A Fierce Storm

The storm Xynthia was an intense low pressure system (weather event) which took place on the 27th and 28th of February 2010. It generated extremely severe wind combined with strong high tides and led to very strong and fast land mass submersion with heavy flooding. Five regions of France were strongly affected: Poitou Charentes, Pays de Loire, Aquitaine, Brittany and Normandy. During this storm, 47 persons died in France of which 35 were in Vendée, and 29 in the village of Faute-Sur-Mer. Due to the flooding many people have been displaced and numerous material damages have occurred. This storm is considered one of the strongest and deadliest natural disasters in the past twenty years. It created a deep psychological social trauma in the affected regions.

Following this event, the Government enacted legislative and policy measures. An order recognizing the state of natural disaster was published in the official gazette on the 3rd of March 2010 for four Departments in France. Its aim was to facilitate compensating victims and to trigger insurance mechanisms. In July 2010, the Commissions from the national parliament and the senate issued their reports. More than 100 proposals were made with the main objective to avoid other disasters of this kind. Some recommendations aimed at improving the dissemination of information about what to do in natural disasters; while others recommended increased financial support to municipalities to implement local response plans. New spatial plans were developed and flooded areas were designated “zones of extreme danger” and “black zones. The government bought many houses that were destroyed in these areas.