Visual recollections

A photographic record
of 150 years of floods in Mediterranean Arc countries

Photography has historically been used to aid our recollections.
Whether artistic or not, photographs have captured the majority
of many past floods that have hit the Mediterranean arc region.

Background vidéo © Drone Découverte 11


Rose Bertin*


Images of historic floods help us understand, not to forget and to persuade others. They recount times gone by, get people talking and encourage dialogue. Sometimes, their existence provides the proof of a forgotten reality, while they frequently rekindle painful memories of devastating events.

All these aspects make photos an irreplaceable tool to foster and relay risk awareness  in our region.

Our goal with this book is to use photographs to show that floods are part of the history  of the Mediterranean arc. Without seeking to be exhaustive in our choices, we have instead selected a collection  of images to take a journey through space and time to flooded and flood-prone areas in  a Mediterranean arc.

These photos act as a reminder that our local areas and flooding are inseparable. They also invite us to learn from the past to better prepare for the future and adapt to this reality with humility.

Ghislaine Verrhiest-Leblanc

Download the book “Visual recollections, a photographic record of 150 years of floods in mediterranean arc countries”
108 pages – edition 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of preparation and adaptation for our ability to recover. The same applies to other major hazards, especially those related to flooding.

This response is primarily based on sharing knowledge about past events and their harmful effects to foster a risk awareness culture common to us all. This is the goal of preventive information introduced by the French Parliamentary Act of 22 July 1987 granting the public the right to information, together with duties for Prefects and Mayors.

In addition to regulatory instruments, such as notices, flood level markers, documents held in town halls, specialist websites, etc., comment and reactions have always stressed the importance of recollections and sharing them widely to forge mutual awareness.

This book meets this goal for the highly vulnerable Mediterranean region, be it from the prevalence of rainstorm events or the wide-ranging human, economic, property-based and ecological implications.
With several decades of experience working locally to understand and assess natural hazards, the authors’ choice of events and recollections, together with photographs, maps, historical accounts as well as ‘before-and-after’ comparisons should relate to everyone.

No longer will be able to say that we didn’t know!

Jacques Faye

Jacques Faye : trained as an Architect before joining the French civil service, working as a town planner in several fields, such as heritage, nature sites, land-use planning and training architects. He managed the major hazard preventive information unit from 1997 to 2018, in successive government ministries tasked with the environment.

In addition to regulatory matters, he also introduced and developed tools to foster a risk awareness culture, such as the web portal, education programmes for schools and the PPMS (specific safety measures plan) with Iffo-Rme institute, the use of RDS with Radio France, involving schools of architecture to create a specialised DSA degree course and gathering recollections and records of natural disasters with the IHMèC.


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The authors

Jean-Marc Décombe : Jean-Marc holds a degree in physical geography and studied natural hazards before managing the natural hazards unit at the CPIE* des Pays de Vaucluse for more than 20 years. While there, he developed a role-play game on flooding called RIVERMED and published a series of guidebooks entitled, “La Mémoire des Risques”.
He established his consultancy firm, SUDALEA in 2017 and works closely with the Inter-regional Mediterranean Arc Flood Unit to assemble an extensive image bank of photos and videos on flooding, as well as a geo-guide on flooding in the Gardon river catchment.

Acces to a part of the image bank of photos and videos on the website of the  CYPRES

Jean-Marc Décombe

Ghislaine Verrhiest-Leblanc : Ghislaine holds a Doctor of Science degree and has worked in risk prevention for almost 20 years. She joined the Ministry of Ecology in 2001 and has held a range of posts in various government departments and public bodies, in areas such as industrial risk prevention, nuclear facility inspections, natural hazard prevention – flooding, earthquakes, forest fires and risks and hazards in mountainous areas, etc. She is also Vice-President of the French Association of Earthquake Engineering (AFPS) and graduated in seismic building standards at the National School of Architecture, Marseille Luminy. She has been head of the inter-regional Mediterranean Arc flood prevention and coordination unit since 2017 where she develops and delivers numerous activities to assist local areas to cope with major flood risks, while making them more resilient. Fostering a risk awareness culture towards flooding is key to her tasks.

Ghislaine Verrhiest-Leblanc

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Summery in pictures






2020, Gloria, les Cévennes et Alex