Sunday, January 25, 2009

The calm after the storm


(All photos by Thierry Jouanneteau. Click on them to enlarge.)

I imagine everybody in the expat blogging circles is posting about the storm that hit France yesterday. Here in our part of Aveyron, we experienced a mix of rain, flooding and windstorms followed by a blizzard, leaving in their wake surreal scenes like the one above.

The French media says that 1.7 million homes lost power during yesterday's storm. All trains in and out of Rodez were cancelled. Here in Aveyron, the papers say the lights went out in 17,000 homes at about 6pm yesterday. I noticed the lights flicker at precisely that time...there but for the grace of God...

My husband and I actually had braved the elements Saturday afternoon and gone into Rodez, not really knowing that roof tiles and even major hunks of scaffolding from the cathedral were flying around the city. The BBC reports:

"Another reader, Simon Ritchie, witnessed the damage wrought by the storm in the French town of Rodez.

'This morning, I awoke to the sound of very strong winds and lashing rain or hail,' he said.

'I looked out of my kitchen's skylight window to see scaffolding and sheets or corrugated iron blowing of the adjacent cathedral. One such sheet blew about 50 yards from the tower and landed on a car below, smashing it in completely.'

'People were screaming on the street below, and bits of masonry and scaffolding continued to fall,' he added.


We drove home from town in blizzard conditions, still with no real knowledge of everything that had been happening on le piton, as the town center of Rodez is called.


This morning, things looked so peaceful in our area that no one would have suspected that snow had been whipping vertically against village homes and buildings throughout the previous afternoon.


We didn't get the worst of this storm. We were lucky.

18 comments:

Sally said...

A friend visiting Picardie described the freezing temperatures there earlier.

And your Rodez has been on the Internet news.

It seems to be a relatively new phenomenon: here in England you can have sunshine in the street you're walking down only to turn a corner and find thundery rain.

It's nice to find yourself in the relatively calm bit.

Jess said...

Wow, I 'm glad you and your family avoided a power outage or getting hurt! Gosh, I wonder what this crazy weather is going to do to vineyards.

tut-tut said...

Naturally, US news has not mentioned this at all. I'm off to read about it on the Internet.

Betty C. said...

Jess, at least you have your priorities straight! I actually haven't read anything about that.

tut-tut -- Some of my American contacts had heard about it. I guess it just depends on what you read/listen to and when.

Dedene said...

Betty,
I'm glad you didn't get hit with the storm. Whenever the wind comes up it makes me remember 1999. We got seriously hit then. This time we were too far north -- thank goodness.
Hope everyone is fine.

Jess said...

Tut Tut, I saw something about it on cnn. It was on the crawl at the bottom of the screen....saying 4 people have died due to extreme weather in France.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Hi Betty, Loulou says her electricity has been off for about 36 hours. As Dedene said, we here in the Loire Valley escaped the worst. Glad you did too.

Betty C. said...

Yes, Ken we were indeed very lucky. We also weren't hit too hard in the infamous 1999 storm, so so far so good.

Elisabeth said...

I have been too busy to check on French news lately, and, even though I am aware that this winter has been unusually severe in France this year, I didn't know about these storms. Glad that you're OK.

spacedlaw said...

Reckless! You guys were lucky to miss all that mayhem.

Abra Bennett said...

Good that you're all safe! Here in the eastern Gard we had a windy day during your storm, and it's been raining all night and this morning, but nothing special. If it weren't for Google News, which has had good coverage, and the Midi Libre, idem, we'd never know that anything special had happened.

Loulou said...

Beautiful photos! I love that last one.
Life seems to be getting back to normal. There is more rain predicted, but no high winds.
I think I'm ready for this winter to be over!

screamish said...

we had a wierd mist and rain out our way but nothing else...just the very tail end of it.

Big storm, but beautiful photos!

casinos said...

Good for you!

Le laquet said...

Gosh Rodez really caught it badly.

Quote of the week has to come from my father, I was on the phone to my mum who was telling me about the damage in the garden. "And we've lost the big old walnut tree from the corner." Dad shouting in the background "we haven't lost it, it's in the middle of the road!" Luckily the local mayor - also the village lumberjack/farmer came and moved it for them.

paris parfait said...

Thank goodness it wasn't worse! Such surreal scenes. Hope everything has calmed down by now; in Paris, it's the usual: cold, grey and rainy. We had seriously high winds over the weekend, but nothing like the Southwest.

Tinsie said...

A storm's never pleasant, but the next day photos are beautiful!

Jann said...

I read about all this bad weather~ Glad you did not get the worst of it.....