By Michel Bernouin
PARIS (Reuters) – High in the French Alps, a helicopter airlifts food, logs and a Renault Twingo car for the residents of two tiny hamlets left isolated after a rockslide in April.
A heap of rubble and a scar on the hillside are all that remains of the only road to Beroulf and Sainte Sabine, with the 45 residents forced to hike back from work through the forest with dinner in a backpack.
On Wednesday they hired a helicopter to go back and forth 17 times to deliver heavier supplies across the valley. Two thirds of the 3,000 euro ($3,500) cost was borne by the locals, with the remainder paid for by local authorities.
A new road following a different path should be in place in the new year but it will be too late for some in the village. An elderly resident and a doctor recovering from a knee operation have already had to move.
“We’re not secure in our everyday lives, in our way of life there’s a lack of comfort, and a feeling of what next?” resident Florence Sebille said.
The painter-decorator said she has had to adapt, cutting green vegetables from her diet and ditching fuel oil this winter as the airlifts are too expensive.
Others worry that things will get worse in the coming winter months as they try and navigate unlit and impractical paths.
“At the moment it’s good weather so it’s fine but when it rains you have to be prepared. And then the day goes on. You have to think about how you’re going to organise yourself,” said primary school headteacher Laurent Misset.
($1 = 0.8721 euros)
(Editing by Patrick Johnston and Gareth Jones)