How a deadly storm turned a French resort into a climate change laboratory
Xynthia was a perfect storm of hurricane-force winds, surging seas and driving rain that smashed into the western coasts of France and Spain overnight, wreaking havoc as far inland as Germany and leaving more than a million households without power. Fifty people were killed.
Today, a golf club stands where Jean and Anne once lived, with cypress trees marking where people drowned.
The area was known to local authorities to be a flood risk when their house was built – but not to them. Maps from the time indicate where flooding was likely, but these were not taken into account when building permits were being issued and not shared when houses were being bought.
Corinne LePage, France's former environment minister and lawyer, who represented the victims, told Euronews: “La Faute-sur-Mer is a textbook case of climate change in the sense that there was well-made legislation against the risk of flooding that wasn’t applied.”
Marratier [mayor of La Faute-sur-Mer from 1989-2014], who to this day proclaims his innocence but declined to comment for this article, was found to have knowingly refused to take any measures to protect his constituency, failed to implement a flood risk prevention plan (PPRI) and to have failed to provide information to residents.