Emmanuel Macron has warned villagers living in flood-hit areas of France that it may take months to rebuild their homes and lives as he pledged a €100 million recovery fund.
The French president on Wednesday visited several Alpine areas devastated by the recent flooding that has killed at least 13 people — five in France and eight in Italy. Around 20 people are still missing.
Speaking from Breil-sur-Roya, a village of 2,000 people that was reduced to mud, rocks and debris, Macron applauded the "courage" and "solidarity" of rescuers and residents, promising to send aid.
This includes a €100 million fund of emergency aid in addition to financing from the EU and local authorities, he said.
His comments come as pictures circulated of the havoc caused by the flooding throughout the week, including destroyed homes, roads, and bridges.
Fast-flowing waters have also unearthed corpses in village cemeteries — and, in some cases, have washed the bodies away.
Several people in Tende, a village on the border with Italy told Macron how they had "lost everything" and were now worried about their futures.
One woman, who was crying as she spoke to the president, asked him "not to forget us," adding: "We need help."
Village mayor Jean-Pierre Vassallo, meanwhile, said a local shepherd had disappeared in a mudslide with some of his herd.
His brother had survived after managing to hold on to a nearby tree.
The village, which had no electricity and communications for two days, and was blocked by road.
"We were in dire straits," Vassallo said.
Helicopters are now providing the residents with food and other supplies to keep them safe.
The flooding has hit hardest in France's Alpes-Maritimes department and across the border in the northwestern Italian regions of Liguria and Piedmont.
According to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, more than 900 rescuers, 500 police officers and some military troops are currently involved in the emergency operation.