UPDATED Two people are feared dead and several others remain missing, including two firefighters, after storm Alex ripped through the Alpes-Maritimes on Friday. In Monaco, thousands of workers rushed to catch the last trains and busses out of the Principality before they were suspended at 2pm.
While Monaco was largely spared, storm Alex hit the Alpes-Maritimes head on, causing torrential rain and devastating flooding which tore through bridges and swept away houses. The region had been placed on a red weather warning – the highest alert.
At around 9am on Saturday morning, Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi – who has described the situation as a “natural disaster” – tweeted that two bodies had been found and identified, though the information has not been confirmed and his tweet was later deleted.
Up to 20 people are either missing or have not checked in with relatives, including two who were carried away by waves that had devastated their house in Roquebillière, and two firefighters. At 10am, it was revealed that a gendarme who had been missing in Saint-Martin-Vésubie had been found safe.
Des images impressionnantes nous parviennent des vallées de la Tinée et de la Vésubie. J’en appelle à la responsabilité des valléens : restez à l’abri ! #TempeteAlex #Meteo06 pic.twitter.com/SwtzFBXQE6
— Marine Brenier (@marinebrenier) October 2, 2020
Hundreds of rescue missions had taken place throughout the night and early hours of Saturday but rescue efforts were being hampered by the flood waters which had blocked many roads in the area.
“Firefighters are not able to access everywhere because of the number of roads that are cut. There are villages and neighbourhoods totally cut off,” fire service chief Alain Degioanni told BFM TV.
The Var river was also subject to a red warning for floods as water levels rose to record levels, according to some reports.
Army helicopters have been brought in to deliver aid to people in the countryside, while 12,000 people in the Alpes-Maritimes remain without power.
Many coastal roads remain closed as the clean-up continues.
The Nice Côte d’Azur airport was closed on Friday as Terminal 2 flooded and residents were told to return home.
?⛈ 02/10/2020 à 18h50 : En #direct du #Terminal2 à l’aéroport de #Nice06 ! Le trafic aérien est ponctuellement perturbé mais l’aéroport est toujours ouvert. Le fleuve du #Var a atteint un niveau de 4.97m au pont Napoléon III à 18h15. @VigiMeteoFrance #VigilanceRouge pic.twitter.com/NMAWDRdBlw
— Météo Côte d’Azur ☀️ (@MeteoCotedAzur) October 2, 2020
The city of Cannes had to postpone its tribute on Friday night to the victims of the 2015 floods. Five years ago, during the night of 3rd to 4th October, severe storms caused the death of 20 people.
By 2pm on Friday, all trains and busses from Monaco to France had been suspended. The 5,000 French workers who had arrived in the Principality that morning rushed to catch the last trains and busses out of Monaco.
For those who were not so lucky, the government set up a temporary shelter in the Grimaldi Forum, however only one person needed accommodation for the night and was redirected to a hotel in Beausoleil.
The Principality of Monaco has offered logistical assistance and manpower to support rescue operations in the neighboring department. Monegasque firefighters were on standby on Saturday to serve as reinforcements in clearing operations. A detachment is ready to carry out possible reconnaissance missions by drone if France requires.
At the request of Prince Albert, and in full consultation with the National Council, the Prince’s Government has also decided to release initial emergency aid for affected populations and contribute to the reconstruction efforts.
To read how Monaco was impacted by the storm, see our story:
Top photo: Lionel Lecourtier Photos Mercantour