These incidents, which began in the early evening, lasted only a few minutes, even seconds, but they hit dozens of houses, tore down roofs, and forced residents to leave their homes.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne on Monday sent “support for the residents of Hauts-de-France and Normandy”, who were also victims of severe weather, ensuring “everything was done to help them”.
His cabinet said that Interior Minister Gerald Dormann would visit the Bihucourt in Pas-de-Calais mid-afternoon, for “a status update”.
The Somme and Pas-de-Calais were placed on a yellow alert for thunderstorms by Méteau-France on Sunday, while 20 other departments were on “orange” alert.
In Pas-de-Calais, the national gendarmerie banned access on Monday morning to Bihucourt and Hendecourt-lès-Cagnicourt, in what the two municipalities describe as “strong gusts of tornado-type wind”.
In the worst-affected village of Bihucourt, many roofs were broken, concrete walls were blown away, trees and pylons were bent by the wind. On Monday, debris, branches or pieces of sheet metal were strewn across the streets, especially around the church, which was badly damaged, an AFP reporter said.
At the school adjacent to the town hall, the Red Cross distributed sandwiches and drinks, and a psychological cell was activated.
“The damage is very, very significant in this city. There was actually a corridor effect of this tornado in the center of the village”, said Philippe Rigaud, Pas-de-Calais’s director of firefighters on the spot. “About five roads have been completely destroyed.”
The “hundred houses” “belong” to him. After “marking houses” and “determining those at risk of collapse”, firefighters accompanied residents so they could “recover some items”.
“People had a good reflex: Many took refuge in their basements, which means we don’t grieve any victims,” he said.
“We have about 150, 200 people to move, for a very long period of time,” said Mayor Benoit-Vincent Calle. “A state emergency fund has been released for the victims”, but “we will need donations, in particular furniture and volunteers”.
Network manager Ennedis had to restore power to a part of the village.
The towns of A-de-Selle in the Somme, and especially of Conti, were also affected.
According to Lieutenant-Colonel Lionel Tabri, “80 houses are affected, more or less strongly” in Conti and a dozen homes are “uninhabited” in this town of 1,800 residents.
This inevitably incurs cracked roofs, branches and debris on the road. The roof of a school group is “completely blown up” and the post office “uninhabited because the roof has been removed”.
“I am in a career of 35 years I have never seen in the Somme”, declared the firefighter, “a scene of battle”.
“According to the evidence, it lasted less than 5 minutes. Some talk 30 to 2 minutes a minute. And then back, followed by rain, hail. and blue skies,” he said.
About 3,000 homes in Eure were denied electricity after bad weather, declared the prefecture of the department, “mainly in Bernay, Beauville, Asnires, Groouvre and Guichanville”.
A total of 64 interventions were made by firefighters. The incident required the relocation of five adults and five children. In Beauzeville, winds were recorded at 136 km/h.
Firefighters also conducted 107 interventions to the north, particularly in Thun Saint-Amand, Arleux, Warling, Erchin and Cantin.
According to the Meteo-France forecaster Tristan Amm, these types of episodes are highly localized and “each time, gusts exceed 100 km/h, which is already too large for absolutes”. They perform “40 to 50 times a year” in France.
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