In 2002, twenty years ago: “Contact the parents, evacuate the school, the Vidourle will overflow!”

Until Sunday, testimonies and reports, twenty years later. Today, back to the Pont-de-Vesse school with our correspondent, who was a school teacher at the time.

In kindergartens, the first days of September are devoted to getting to know the children, the parents and to setting up rituals, to putting in place what will allow toddlers to grow, under the watchful and benevolent gaze of the educational team. , teachers and Atsem.

The 2002-2003 team at the nursery school of Pont-de-Vesse, witness to an unexpected event.

A cloudless sky

This Monday, September 9, 2002, at the Pont-de-Vesse kindergarten, we were therefore at the beginning of this installation, the sun was at its zenith in a cloudless sky, the afternoon was calm and toddlers slept in the dormitory. The ringing of the telephone shattered this tranquility.

The message was clear:Contact the parents, the school must be evacuated, the Vidourle will overflow For a few moments, you think it’s a bad joke, but only for a few seconds, because you know it’s possible, an episode from the Cévennes had raged during the weekend… Keep calm, don’t scare anyone and be efficient.

The phone calls were linked to reach the families, to convince them of the merits of the situation: “But it’s not raining? How is it possible Gradually, the classes emptied. No more children in the school except for one, who had to be kept longer, the father not having obtained the understanding of his superior.

The unforgettable sound of water

I was able to return to my home, nearby, around 6 p.m., and rejoin my family. It was with amazement that we saw arriving young adults of our acquaintance proposing to mount the furniture on concrete blocks with which their vehicle was filled.

Despite our skepticism about the turn of events, we accepted and thus raised washing machine, refrigerator and other equipment to preserve. Benefiting from a floor, we were able to put some documents, textiles and various objects out of water. All this seemed exaggerated to us, but we greatly appreciated the initiative.

This operation completed, we walked to the crossroads of Pont-de-Vesse to see the obvious: the water was slowly coming down the avenue, the school library was in the axis, the city center was going be flooded. On the alert all night on the first floor, we heard the sound of water flowing under our windows, transforming the street into a river!

In the early morning, the water had receded. The ground floor bore the color of mud up to 15 cm and the scent of mixed substances floated in the air. The blocks had done their job well. We were very lucky, unlike other neighborhoods that saw the water rise over a meter.

Solidarity at school

Back at school the next day, what I feared had happened: the library had taken a bath. Many books lay unusable, smeared with mud and warped by damp. This misadventure was the subject of a report on M6 and had a surprising and comforting impact: a few weeks later, we received a box of books from a school in the North-East of France. A welcome solidarity and not the only one: on condition of anonymity, a student’s mother, restaurant owner, came to deposit her recipe for the weekend to donate it to a school family, hard hit by the floods.

In the spring of 2003, the date of the photo, the team had no idea that the experience would be repeated on the following September 22. That day, the rainstorm invaded the city, blocking all access and all exits. The school was not affected, but well surrounded by water. Our house has taken in a few people for the night with, as a preamble, an improvised dinner aperitif. By candlelight, the atmosphere was hushed and somewhat charged with angst.

Since then, despite the improvements made, the autumn rains have revived this memory, this feeling of helplessness in the face of the anger of the Vidourle, the border river between Gard and Hérault, so appreciated by walkers and fishermen.

The pages of the Midi Libre Lunel edition of October 10, 2002.

The pages of the Midi Libre Lunel edition of October 10, 2002.

Special pages “Floods 2002”

It was a historic flood of the Vidourle which flooded and devastated the Lunelloise plain on September 9, 2002, erasing that of 1958 which until then had been a reference in the collective memory. A flood that originated in the Gard between Quissac, Cannes and Clairan where some 600 mm of water fell per m2.

Until Sunday, the local editorial staff of Midi Libre has decided to come back to this disaster which left one dead, a firefighter who died in Galargues while he was intervening to help and to whom a tribute will be paid this evening, in the town.

First vote of our special pages today, with the testimony of Joëlle Sanchez-Valat, then director of the kindergarten of Pontde-Vesse.

Tomorrow, a look back at this event with two witnesses and major local actors at the time: former mayor Claude Arnaud and general councilor Claude Barral

In 2002, twenty years ago: “Contact the parents, evacuate the school, the Vidourle will overflow!”