24/01/2014 - A major flooding of the Seine River similar to the flood disaster of 1910 could affect up to 5 million residents in the greater Paris area and cause up to 30 billion euros worth of damage, according to a new OECD report. Economic growth, jobs and public finances could also be significantly affected.
The OECD Review on Flood Risk Management of the Seine River – commissioned by the Basin Organisation Seine Grands Lacs with the French Ministry of Ecology and Ile-de-France regional council – recommends that city officials work to raise risk awareness among citizens and businesses and improve the resilience of the metropolitan area to flood risks.
Recent floods in Europe and New York City’s Hurricane Sandy disaster in 2012 illustrated the vulnerability of today’s ever-denser cities to flooding and the need to adapt critical infrastructure systems to be able to cope with extreme weather events. The 1910 Paris flood took several weeks to subside.
“The impact on Paris of a major flood would be much greater today than a century ago, with serious economic and social consequences on top of the temporary disruption and material losses,” said Rolf Alter, Director of the OECD’s Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate. “The better Paris prepares itself to manage this risk and improve its resilience, the less vulnerable it will be, to the benefit of the city and the country.”
The absence of a major flood in the Paris region for the past half century means the spectre has largely faded from collective memory. Yet population growth and the density of transport and energy infrastructure that has grown up around the French capital mean the area is greatly exposed to flood risks, despite the upstream dam-reservoirs and other defences now in place.
The OECD review suggests ways to minimise the risks and better prepare the Ile-de-France region. It notes that proposed projects to develop and expand the city’s transport and logistics networks offer an opportunity to put some of its suggestions into practice.
The Seine flood risk review is part of an OECD series examining governments’ risk management in areas such as natural disasters and civil protection. Further information on the series on risk management is available.
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