Paris braces for floods as swollen Seine inches up
Paris: Paris was on alert on Saturday as the swollen Seine continued to creep higher, with forecasters expecting the flooding to peak at the end of the weekend.
The river reached 5.7 metres at 9:00 am (local time) on Saturday, more than four metres above its normal height, causing headaches for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks.
Forecasters believe it will continue to rise, peaking on Sunday night or Monday, but will not reach the 2016 high of 6.1 metres, when the Louvre museum was forced to close its doors for four days.
But the world's most visited museum was on high alert, along with the Musee d'Orsay and Orangerie galleries, with the lower level of the Louvre's Islamic arts wing closed to visitors. Leaks had started to appear in some basements on Friday, while some residents on the city's outskirts were forced to travel by boat through waterlogged streets.
A health centre in Paris's northwestern suburbs, where 86 patients were receiving care, was also evacuated on Friday.
In total more than 650 people have been evacuated from their homes in the Paris region, according to police, while more than 1,400 were without electricity. The Vigicrues flooding agency scaled back its peak predictions for the river in the capital, saying it will top out at 5.9 to 6 metres on Sunday evening at the earliest, compared with 6.2 metres previously.
"Due to the spread of flooding to different tributaries, the level of the Seine in Paris will continue rising again on the weekend," said Vigicrues, adding that highest level would last for about 10 hours before slowly going down.
It's enough to worry Joao de Macedo, janitor at a residential building in Paris's upscale 16th Arrondissement. "There are six studios in the basement, and we've had to set up blocks outside to keep the windows from breaking and covering everything in water," he said.
Inside the studios, tables and dressers have been lifted off the floor as water seeps through the walls. Outside, where the river was nearly lapping the tyres of parked vehicles, a young woman said it was "great to see ducks instead of cars".