Corsica is a well-known and popular holiday destination but is no stranger to the risk of torrential floods.
The island’s sharp, steep relief combined with heavy rainfall so typical of the Mediterranean climate, lends itself to impressive flash floods that rush down the slopes to the coastline. For example, peaking at 2,706 metres, Monte Cinto is
the “Island of Beauty’s” highest point, and lies just 25 km from the sea.
Yet, much of the coastline, long abandoned by the Corsicans because it was marshy and wet, has been built on, especially for tourism. As a result, the risks have grown and the local area is far more vulnerable to flooding.
2016 highlighted this weakness which had already been demonstrated by
One example was All Saints Day, in 1993, when the whole island was hit, especially in the Alta Rocca. Many people lost their lives.
The famous Genoese bridge, Spin’a Cavallu, on the Rizzanese River, at Sartène, bore the brunt but resisted, as it had in 1892.
The 23 September 1974 marks another sad memory, when a heavy thunderstorm triggered a flash flood* of the Restonica River, at Corte, where it swept away a group of young campers, killing ten of them.
More recently, the Gravone River burst its banks on 21 December 2019, flooding Ajaccio Airport, while on 11 June 2020, again in Ajaccio, the Cannes and Salines neighbourhoods were flooded by surface runoff in a repeat of events on 29 and 30 May 2008.
Heavy rain fell on the island on 23 and 24 November 2016, then again on 19 and 20 December.
The first storm dumped in excess of 300 mm of rain on Castagniccia. The retail park at Furiani, south of Bastia, was badly damaged by surface runoff and a small river, the San Pancrazio, which flooded.
The second wave of rain hit the whole island.
St Florent was flooded on 24 November and again on 19 and 20 December when the Aliso and Poggio rivers broke their banks. A local resident decided to mark the level of the first flood with a touch of wry humour by painting a scene on his garage door.
Flood markers constitute one of the most valuable records to remember floods.
In 2003, a set of acts of Parliament, called the “Risk Acts”, made it mandatory for municipalities to conserve or, if required, display the highest known flood levels (PHEC).
A standard design was then introduced nationwide for these new flood markers.