Rain pummels France, Seine River overflows Paris embankments

PARIS (AP) — Paris boat cruises are canceled and emergency workers are evacuating houseboats around the French capital Wednesday, after the Seine River overflowed its banks and floods hit towns across France.

In some areas, the floods are the worst in a century. And the waters are expected to keep rising.

Drenched tourists are rearranging plans and the government is mobilizing to rescue people trapped in homes and cars in provincial towns.

Paris City Hall closed roads along the shore of the Seine from the Left Bank in the east to the Eiffel Tower neighborhood in the west, as the water level has risen at least 4.3 meters (14 feet, 1 inch) higher than usual.

Jordan Muller, a 25-year-old from Seattle who is living in Paris, jogged along the quay despite slippery cobblestones.

“Well my normal running route is completely gone,” she said. “I usually run up the stairs (toward) the Eiffel Tower. Got to the stairs and they are underwater. So I had to turn around. I have to find a new running route today.”

Signs for the Bateaux-Mouches tourist boats in French, English and Japanese read “Due to flood waters, all cruises are cancelled.”

Unusually heavy rain in recent days across France has caused exceptional delays at the French Open and forced the evacuation of two prisons.

No casualties have been reported, but emergency workers have carried out more than 8,000 rescue operations from the Belgian border south to Burgundy over the past two days, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday.

President Francois Hollande expressed his “support” to the victims of the floods during a Cabinet meeting, according to government spokesman Stephane Le Foll. Cazeneuve urged vigilance and said the government is working to protect flood victims and pledged to pay for rescue and cleanup efforts.

After days of unusually heavy rainfall, the precipitation eased Wednesday but new rain is expected in the evening and through Thursday. Paris authorities are warning residents and visitors to be vigilant around river banks, and said high river levels are expected to peak Friday.

Paris houseboat resident Jean-Edwin Rhea, 47, had to cut power to his boat to avoid electrical problems.

“Apart from that, we find it very entertaining. Children loved it,” he said. “We were here last night and had some drinks on the terrace. It was beautiful, with lots of lights, the rain.”

Dogs, too, are enjoying the unusual weather, splashing happily on what used to be roads and are now shallow pools.


Sylvie Corbet contributed to this report.

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