French President Emmanuel Macron has promised up to a billion euros to reconstruct France’s storm-ravaged south-east, which he declared a natural disaster area.
Visiting the valleys and villages of the Alpes-Maritimes region surrounding Nice that were engulfed by floodwaters five days ago, Macron on Wednesday announced the creation of a solidarity fund.
He promised a more resilient and sustainable reconstruction, that would happen quickly, after first paying homage to the victims of storm Alex. Five deaths have now been confirmed in France and eight in Italy, which was also hit hard.
“We're not going to be able to rebuild in the same way and we're going to have to prevent flood risks,” Macron told news channel LCI.
“In the Vésubie valley, in Roya, residents will have to evacuate their houses, and those that have disappeared cannot be rebuilt identically … We have to think about the development of our country differently.”
Bridges collapsed and roads were submerged as Storm Alex tore through the French Riviera and Nice hinterlands, bringing downpours of up to 450mm – the equivalent of a year’s worth of rain, Le Parisien reported. Around 20 people are still missing.
In a speech delivered from the stricken village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie – where these before and after photos lay bare the extend of the damage – Macron outlined the care and support measures to be offered to victims.
They include the creation of a “massive reconstruction fund for the Alpes-Maritimes, the reactivation of the Barnier Fund for the prevention of major natural risks, and a finance conference to ensure different regions can work together.
Overall, the state would put on the table “several hundreds of millions of euros – and maybe even up to a billion euros”, Macron promised.