Following the recent flash flooding in the Aude region in south western France, where 13 people are reported to have died, River Canal Rescue has been called upon to assist in the recovery of a number of vessels stranded in the Canal du Midi.
There were initially 21 vessels stranded, but most of these have been recovered and suffered only minor damage. Six vessels however suffered major damage and three are still in precarious positions.
The GRP cruisers, valued between £50,000 and £180,000, are insured with one of RCR’s insurance partners, and with no local businesses having the recovery experience of the breakdown and emergency assistance firm, directors Stephanie Horton and Trevor Forman are flying to the area to assess the damage and potential costs, and advise on next steps.
Stephanie explains: “The boats belong to one of the largest EU hire firms and while they’ve managed to refloat three of their damaged vessels, three others need recovering. One is currently positioned with its stern in the water and bow vertically out of the water, it’s suffered hull damage and as the engine has been underwater for some time, it will need first-aiding.
“The other two have their sterns caught on the bank, so currently only minor damage, but once lifted out we’ll know more. The biggest issue will be getting cranes in to the area as the emphasis is on restoring water and power to homes, and repairing roads.
“At this stage it’s about assessing what damage has been sustained to the vessels that were sunk, ascertaining the cost of repairs and implementing as many measures as necessary to reduce and minimise damage.”
Three months of rain fell in a few hours on 15 October causing widespread devastation and later a breach that emptied the canal, leaving RCR with a number of challenges to overcome.
Stephanie concludes: “Once we’re there we’ll look at what options we have and whether we need to bring our rescue team’s out.”