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Charles Isaacs Photographs Inc

Great Paris Flood of 1910

In late January 1910, following months of high rainfall, the Seine River flooded Paris when water pushed upwards from overflowing sewers and subway tunnels, and seeped into basements through fully saturated soil. The waters did not overflow the river's banks within the city, but flooded Paris through tunnels, sewers, and drains. In neighboring towns both east and west of the capital, the river rose above its banks and flooded the surrounding terrain directly.

Police, firefighters, and soldiers moved through waterlogged streets in boats to rescue stranded residents from second-story windows and to distribute aid. Refugees gathered in makeshift shelters in churches, schools, and government buildings. Although the water threatened to overflow the tops of the quay walls that line the river, workmen were able to keep the Seine back with hastily built levees. To continue moving throughout the city, residents traveled by boat or across a series of wooden walkways built by government engineers and by Parisians themselves.

On 28 January the water reached its maximum height at 8.62 metres (28.28 feet), some 6 m above its normal level. Estimates of the flood damage reached some 400 million francs, or $1.5 billion in today's money. The water got to its highest after 10 days and after 35 days the water was gone completely. During the flooding, a photographer from the "Service de l'Identité Judiciare" of the police was sent to document the scene; he was sent back six months later to show the exact location with normalcy regained. A map was published showing the camera locations of many of the views.