Wednesday, March 3, 2010

La tempête Xynthia

I survived the cyclone Xynthia. It was a frightening experience. My apartment building the morning after the flood:

The storm struck during the night. I didn't know the forecast. I woke up at 4:00am. I couldn't sleep because of the wind and the rain. I got out of bed and stepped into four inches of water! It took me a moment to realize what was happening.

The electricity was out. I could not put up the electric roller shades to see what was going on. Water was coming into my apartment from under the front door. I foolishly opened the door to see what was going on and water came gushing in. I was able to close and lock the door. I tried calling the emergency number with my cell phone but the network was down. I was trapped. I got dressed and stayed on my bed. My only light came from my iPod Touch.

About three hours later I could see a bit of daylight through the roller shade. The wind and rain had stopped. The water in my apartment had receded to just a half an inch. I bravely opened the door to a scene of destruction.

The thing that scared me the most was to look at the high water mark on the wall outside my apartment. The flood had reached two feet at my front door. Thankfully, the front door seals well and kept most of the water outside.

My renter's insurance paid for five days in a hotel. My landlady and I slowly cleaned out the water and the mud. The mud -- it was everywhere, every nook and cranny.

My building and several surrounding have underground garages. I don't own a car but everyone else does. The cars were completely submerged. I shot some video of the firemen pumping out the basement parking of my building and the one next door. This went on for a week. Hundreds of cars were destroyed.

The local news chain has some good footage:

Xynthia : au coeur de la tempête

Xynthia : 36h après

I was lucky. People living nearby at the beach were killed when the flood waters reached the ceilings of their homes. 63 people in France lost their lives.