Saturday, August 21, 2010

The 1910 Paris flood - NBIH

I never knew Paris had been flooded in 1910. It seems most French and even Parisians have forgotten about it, yet, as we learn from New Books in History this flood has been the last and the worst that hit the modern city of Paris and its scenario still counts as the defining flood, its high points still serve as the marker that measures against flooding have to meet.

Host Marshall Poe spoke with Jeffrey Jackson who wrote the book Paris under water about the flood of 1910. They go through the causes of the flood. As usual with floods it was caused by a combination of factors each of which come with high waters. In addition, the then new and modern sewer system added to the flood; the system actually connected all the parts of the city and allowed for the rising water to reach everywhere.

A major point of interest for Poe and Jackson was how the city and its inhabitants pulled together and dealt with the flood as a cohesive society. While this is indeed a very interesting historic and sociological point, I myself was wondering about the technicalities of flood prevention. Why are they still using the 1910 high points as a standard? Hasn't the environment entirely changed? Aren't there more floodings in modernized countries these days, because of more canals, because of climate change and such? I fear Paris may be flooded despite the 1910 markers in the 21st century.

More NBIH:
Stasi agents and informants,
War in Human Civilization,
Always recommended: New Books in History,
The best varied history podcast,
The Caucasus.