Languedoc counts cost of deluge

Producers in Languedoc-Roussillon are counting the cost of record rainfall which hit the region earlier this week causing severe floods.

Image credit: F3 LR F.Guibal

Vineyards in the Aude. Image credit: F3 LR F.Guibal

Although much of the grape harvest was already finished, with only around 15% of vines left to picked in the Hérault region by the time the three-day downpour began on Sunday 28 September, many vineyards have been damaged or destroyed by the floods.

As French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the region on Tuesday, Jérôme Despey, president of FranceAgriMer’s wine department and local winemaker, reported: “East of Montpellier the water swept away whole clumps of vines and it is still difficult to get to the flooded fields.”

Jerome Despey tweetAlthough the full extent of the damage is still being assessed, Despey indicated that 200 grape growers and farmers had suffered “enormous damage” as a result of the downpour, which saw the Hérault fire service receive 10,000 calls for help and forced thousands to spend the night in railway stations, airports and schools.

According to FranceTV, one co-operative in the Aude has launched an appeal for volunteers to help finish picking 100 hectares by hand this weekend after flooding made it impossible to put mechanical harvesters into the vineyards.

A MeteoFrance map of the rainfall which fell between 28 and 30 September

A MeteoFrance map of the rainfall which fell between 28 and 30 September

According to MeteoFrance, the town of Montpellier experienced its highest level of precipitation on a single day since records began as 253mm fell in just three hours. Elsewhere Pézenas received 160mm of rain, while Béziers received 156mm, both equivalent to more than two months worth of rainfall.

The storms followed another severe downpour in the Languedoc-Roussillon just two weeks prevously, which claimed several lives.

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