Weather warning: Northern France on alert as Storm Eunice lashes region

Five départements in Northern France were on orange alert on Friday morning with residents warned to take precautions amid gale-force winds and possible coastal flooding.

Northern France faces strong winds and huge waves on Friday, as storm Eunice begins to hit.
Northern France faces strong winds and huge waves on Friday, as storm Eunice begins to hit. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP)

Residents of northern France have been urged to be “very vigilant” due to the strong winds caused by Storm Eunice, which has already led to at least five deaths elsewhere in Europe. 

The départements of Pas-de-Calais, Somme and Seine-Maritime have been placed on amber alert for strong winds and flooding. Manche and Nord départements have been given such alerts for strong winds alone. 

Parts of northern France have been placed on amber.

Parts of northern France have been placed on orange alert. This means residents should be “very vigilant” towards weather conditions. (Source: Météo-France)

Train services in some of these départements have been cancelled entirely – others partially. Be sure to check with your rail provider before attempting any journey. Services running between these départements and the rest of France have also been interrupted. 

French authorities have suggested a number of measures to protect yourself amid these weather conditions.

If it is particularly windy where you are, you should:

  • Protect your house and other goods exposed to the wind;
  • Keep yourself informed on the situation, consulting official sources;
  • Limit any travel plans (even short drives to the supermarket);
  • Be careful of falling trees or objects – don’t remain below something susceptible to land on you;
  • Don’t choose today to do maintenance on your roof
  • Install an electric generator outside your house (it may be a little to late for this in practice). 

For those facing coastal flooding risks – particularly from large sea waves as is the current case – you are advised to:

  • Don’t go to the beach or for a swim in the sea;
  • Stay away from the coast and estuaries;
  • Stay informed about the evolving situation and have an emergency bag ready;
  • Keep an eye on the rising waters and protect goods that could be submerged. 
  • Go to the highest point in your building. Climbing onto the roof is a measure of last resort.

According to Méteo France, the country’s national weather service, violent winds are expected to last from shortly after 9am until after 6pm on Friday. The flooding risk is predicted to be highest between shortly after 9am through to about 4pm on Friday. 

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Emergency aid for northern France after storms Eunice and Franklin

France is to unlock a special emergency relief fund to help victims of storms Eunice and Franklin, which battered northern areas of the country in recent days.

Emergency aid for northern France after storms Eunice and Franklin

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced: “At the request of the President and in order to express national solidarity with the victims of storms Eunice and Franklin, we are committing funds from the fonds de secours d’extrême urgence to the areas affected, on a one-off basis.”

This fund is “intended for individuals and families placed in a situation of great difficulty”, the release specified, and “will allow people in need following the passage of storms to obtain basic necessities, in addition to the assistance provided by local authorities”.

The départements of Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Seine-Maritime and Manche were in the path of both devastating storms, which passed within 48 hours of each other.

Storm Eunice seriously injured at least six people, crippled transport and caused damage to numerous buildings, including schools, while a couple in their seventies were washed away by waves when Storm Franklin lashed the north of the country.

A state of catastrophe naturelle has already been declared, as is required in order to unlock the emergency relief fund, and further aid may be mobilised “depending on the nature of the damage observed and the phenomena that caused them”, Darminin added.

The formal designation of catastrophe naturelle also means that people affected can benefit from an accelerated process when making insurance claims.

READ ALSO What does it mean when France declares a catastrophe naturelle?