Emmanuel Macron has warned villagers living in flood-stricken areas of France that it may take months to rebuild their homes and lives because he promised a € 100 million recovery fund.
The French president on Wednesday visited several areas of the Alps devastated by the recent floods that killed at least 13 people – five in France and eight in Italy. About 20 people are still missing.
Speaking from Breil-sur-Roya, a village of 2,000 people that has been turned to mud, rock and rubble, Macron praised the “courage” and “solidarity” of rescuers and residents, promising to send aid.
This includes a € 100 million emergency aid fund in addition to financing from the European Union and local authorities, he said.
His comments came as pictures of the catastrophe caused by flooding throughout the week circulated, including destroyed houses, roads and bridges.
The rushing water also found bodies in village graves – and, in some cases, had cleaned the bodies.
Several people in Tende, a village on the border with Italy told Macron how they had “lost everything” and were now worried about their future.
One woman, who broke down in tears while talking to the president, asked him “not to forget us,” adding: “We need help.”
Village mayor Jean-Pierre Vassallo, meanwhile, said a local shepherd had disappeared in a landslide with some of his flock.
His brother survived after successfully holding on to a nearby tree.
The village, which has been without electricity and communication for two days, and is blocked by a road.
“We are in trouble,” said Vassallo.
The helicopters now provide food and other supplies for the residents to stay safe.
The floods were most severe in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France and across the border in the northwestern Italian region of Liguria and Piedmont.
According to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, more than 900 rescuers, 500 police officers and several military forces are currently involved in the emergency operation.