During the night between 27 and 28 February 2010, storm Xynthia struck the western regions of France causing the death of 53 people. One year later, the French Prime Minister has validated the national floods management plan which was prepared through a 8 months participatory process involving all relevant actors. The plan was presented on 17 February 2011 by the French Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mrs. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, as the governmental roadmap for flood risk prevention. The plan aims to better managing urban growth in flood risky areas, to improve weather forecasting and floods early warning system and to strengthen existing floods protection systems. The plan includes an action program with more than 60 concrete floods prevention actions and is provided with a budget of € 500 million.
“We changed completely our consideration of the risk of flooding after Xynthia. We paid a very high price in terms of human lives to fully understand our level of exposure to the risk of floods. Three months after Xynthia, the torrential rains in the Var region and the victims they caused further reminded us how vulnerable we are to floods. The plan we are presenting today aims to protect the population and to make our environment safer. However we all will be better protected if we will never forget the Xynthia and the Var tragedies as well as the wrong land use planning decisions which caused so many deaths and damages.” Declared Mrs. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet during the presentation of the plan.
The French National Floods Management Plan is organised along four pillars:
1. Proper urban development in high flood risk prone areas. This will be achieved through:
2. Improve floods forecasting, monitoring and early warning systems. This will be achieved through:
3. Dam system renforcement. This will be mostly achieved through consolidation works on 1200 km of dams during the period 2011-2016 with an allocated budget of 500 M€. The national dam registry will be also completed in 2011. The hydraulic works safety control services were already reinforced.
4. Development of a risk management culture at all levels. This will be mostly achieved through the mandatory inclusion of a specific risk prevention chapter in the municipal emergency plans.
In order to ensure a consistent flood risk management policy, the Minister also presented the new national governance system for floods prevention which involves also civil society and local communities. “Collective efforts and a constant dialogue among all concerned actors – the Minister said - are a necessary pre-requisite for any effective flood prevention policy”.