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Paris transit stations and roads close as the River Seine floods

The water is flushing rats out of the sewers

The Zouave statue at the Pont D’Alma bridge on the River Seine stands partially submerged on January 26, 2018 in Paris.
Photo by Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After weeks of intense rain, rising water levels on the River Seine have put Paris on flood alert. The water level is expected to peak at 20 feet by Saturday, about 13 feet higher than its normal height.

The current flood follows the third-wettest December-January period on record, according to the national weather service, Météo-France. Current rainfall amounts are about double the average for this time of year.

Rising water has disrupted transportation around Paris, forcing train stations, roads, and pedestrian walkways to close. At least seven metro stations alongside the river—some of the busiest areas for tourism—have been shut down and will remain closed until January 31.

Important commuter lines have also faced challenges. Local train operator SNCF Transilien was forced to halt service on the RER C, a commuter line that carries about 500,000 passengers per day through the center of the city.

Traffic on the river has been stopped, including the many tourist operations that provide access to and views of sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Orsay Museum. The river is so high that boats cannot pass under the bridges.

The flood has also affected the famous Louvre Museum, which is located next to the Seine. The most-visited museum in France announced that it will close the lower level of the Department of Islamic Arts until January 28. Severe flooding two years ago forced 35,000 pieces of art to be moved. The Louvre has since established increased emergency procedures for flooding.

If the water reaches a maximum of 20 feet on Saturday, as officials expect, it still won’t come close to beating the record flood of 1910. In that year—called “The Great Flood of Paris”—the Seine water level rose to 28 feet and caused evacuations throughout the city.

Saturday’s water levels should however meet or exceed the levels from the 2016 and 1982 Paris floods. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the 2016 floods of the Seine and Loire basins caused $1.75 billion worth of economic damage.

The water is also flushing rats out of Paris sewers, illuminating the city’s problematic rodent infestation. France24 reports that the capital is home to 1.75 rats for every Parisian.

Elsewhere in France, at least 23 other departments have experienced severe flooding. People in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, outside Paris, were using boats to get around flooded streets.

See below for more images and tweets of the flood:

A general view along the rain-swollen River Seine as water levels increased on January 26, 2018 in Paris, France.
Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/Nurphoto via Getty Images