In terms of sheer power, the latest storms were even more violent than those that devastated much of southwest France ten years ago.
Authorities say however that many lives have been saved thanks to the lessons learned in the last decade. On a visit to the region, French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the work of the emergency services. “Thanks to their fantastic devotion, right now we are only mourning four deaths, which is a tragedy, yes, but in 1999 there were 92 deaths,” he said. The French army has been called in to help with the clear-up effort and the government has urged insurance companies to pay affected policy holders without delay. Up to 800,000 French homes are still without electricity. Officials say it will take five days for normal service to resume.