Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Update on the floods from the CA

From the CA management:

As you are surely aware, Lourdes has been very badly affected following the serious flooding of the River Gave last Tuesday/Wednesday.  While the coverage on the internet may be focusing on the damage in the Domaine, and the clearing up there, we are all gradually becoming aware of the serious situation in the town, particularly affecting the hotels along the two sides of the river, where the majority of our pilgrims stay.  Some hotels had only recently re-opened after refurbishment following the floods in October 2012.

However, due to the incredible efforts ongoing in Lourdes, and with the tireless support of John and Nicholas Tangney and their staff, it seems likely that we should be able to have a good pilgrimage in August, provided that we work together to solve certain problems.  We are certainly more fortunate than other groups who are travelling sooner, with less time to cope with changes, or those who do not have the support of a travel agent to do lots of the hard work.

The Domaine
The Accueil Notre-Dame is functioning.  Water did affect the lower level to some extent, but this is being sorted. The bridges in the Domaine too are being rapidly repaired.

The Grotto is now open and masses are being said there.  Processions have been taking place since Friday.  Obviously various other churches and buildings were flooded or damaged, including the St Bernadette Church and Undergound Basilica.  Even in August, we may not be able to use the venues that were orignally booked, and some times of services may have to change. However, the Pie X (Underground) should be open by then.

The Baths suffered serious damage again, and there is no definite date when they will re-open.

Many paths etc are seriously damaged, so much new tarmac is required.

All the hotels along both sides of the river upstream of the 'Pont Vieux' were badly affected.  This includes the Alba, Mediteranne and Arcades on the Avenue du Paradis and the Notre-Dame, St Georges, and Beau Site on the Avenue Peyremale, these latter having been unaffected in October.  Most hotels have kitchens, boilers, main electrics or other services based on the ground floors or basements. This means that a clean-up is not enough, as a hotel cannot re-open without a functioning kitchen and lifts. It also means that some other hotels further from the river may be affected due to water ingress to basements affecting kitchens etc.  The above is not a full list of affected hotels, just a selection.

However, this is where the long-term experience and connections of Tangney Tours has been vital.  Tangney Tours will be able to source sufficient hotel beds to support the CA's requirements (and those of most of his other UK groups that preceed us).  At present we don't have the details of which hotels we will be using in August, and which will not be open.  Some people will undoubtably be in hotels where the CA do not usually stay.  Details will be provided by Tangney Tours soon, but other groups are travelling before us, and therefore have to be prioritised. Please do not contact Tangneys for information unless you really need to.  They will provide further detail when they can.

General News
Please remember that many other businesses in Lourdes were affected, some for the second time in ten months. Some familiar shops and cafes will still be closed in August, and some may never re-open.  Many seasonal workers have been laid off.

The flooding was also not limited to the town of Lourdes.  Some villages higher up have been seriously affected with houses and road swept away, and people evacuated from the area.

Apparently, there is still snow in the mountains, the whole of south-west France is still saturated, and the river still fast-flowing, so care must still be taken.

The Lourdes authorities have a website to accept donations by credit card etc (http://fr.lourdes-france.org/evenement/solidarite-inondations-2013).  If you know anyone who wishes to donate, but would prefer to apply Gift Aid and can wirte a cheque, there is a UK charity that can accept donations and pass them on (The British Hospitalite Trust, Charity Reg 299315).  If anyone asks, please direct them to me for further information.

The CA Trustees fully support ongoing work to ensure the Pilgrimage goes ahead. Please remember that all those booked through Tangney Tours will be found alternative hotels if their original hotel is unavailable.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Lourdes floods 2003 - III

Further update, via Tony Assante, with our thanks (11am, French time): The Hoteliers Association have said that 40 hotels were seriously damaged by the flooding. The cost to each hotel runs to roughly 1 million euros by their estimations. There is talk, not confirmed that riverside hotels will need to reconfigure to limit future damage. More information when plans are confirmed. 

Update from Lourdes, via Tony Assante, with our thanks (10am, French time):

The work is progressing, this morning a geological survey will examine the Prairie, which has been badly damaged as all the footpaths have come up and all the underground pipes, have been affected. They also need to check the stability of the trees that are near the river on the Prairie side of the Gave. The Way of the Cross of the Sick is practically unusable.

There are reports that future works will be undertaken to protect the Sanctuaries from future floods. More information when plans are confirmed.

Update from Lourdes this morning (9am, French time):

Several masses (details in link) all to be held in the Upper Basilica area: http://fr.lourdes-france.org/evenement/inondations-grotte-2013.

In addition, there will be a Eucharistic Adoration Service thisafternoon at 17.00 (France) in the Rosary Basilica.

There will be a Marian (Torchlight) procession tonight at 21.00 (France). The procession will leave from the Esplanade (from the base of the steps of the Rosary Basilica - north side).

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Lourdes Floods 2013 II

Updates for Thursday 20 June 2013

5pm (UK time): Have you wondered where all the mud came from? http://midi-pyrenees.france3.fr/2013/06/20/en-video-le-survol-des-degats-des-inondations-lourdes-et-bareges-274299.html

2pm (UK time): Update from Lourdes, via Tony Assante, with our thanks: During the press conference this morning at 10.30 (France) the Rector, Fr Horacio Brito, and, the Finance Director, Mr Thierry Castillo, of the shrine, confirmed that no pilgrimages will be cancelled, despite the seriousness of the damage. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Crypt and their chapels, together with the High Stations of the Cross are open. In a few days access to the Grotto and the Rosary Basilica will be reopened.
They continue to asses the damage. Other areas damaged by the flood will re open progressively (Confessions Chapel, Accueil JPII…). There are serious questions over the time scale for reopening the Baths, the St Bernadette Church and the St Pius X (Underground) Basilica. Pilgrimages already registered with the Shrine, will find that their programme will be modified, but they will be able to take part. Pilgrimage organisers will find further information on the Sanctuaries website: www.lourdes-france.org

12pm (UK time): Lourdes was badly hit, but please remember the villages further up stream who have been fully evacuated due to no electricity, the roads and houses being washed away. Here are the first scenes from Barege: http://midi-pyrenees.france3.fr/2013/06/20/dans-bareges-devastee-et-evacuee-plus-rien-plus-rien-273717.html

10.30am French time:
It has been announced that the French President, Fran├žois Hollande, will visit Lourdes at 17.00 (France)

10am French time:
More photos from the Sanctuaries of the clean-up, via Tony Assante, with our thanks: http://lnx.tonyassante.com/wordpress/foto-ufficiali-del-20-giugno.html

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Lourdes Floods 2013

Some updates on the Lourdes floods (as at 19/06/2013):

Please keep everyone there in your prayers..

Latest news (17:58, French time): Lourdes Sanctuary has released details of how to make a donation to help with repairing the flood damage: http://fr.lourdes-france.org/evenement/solidarite-inondations-2013

Latest news (16:09, French time): The Mayor of Lourdes has said that the town is "traumatised". These floods are far more severe than those in October. The flooding is likely to be nearly as severe, or more severe than that of 1937, the highest recorded at 5.3m. Whilst the October floods affected roughly ten hotels, this time the number is many times greater. The affected hotels may not be able to reopen this season. The financial cost will be huge. Seasonal workers are likely to be badly affected too.

Latest news (14:59 - UK time): How it looked yesterday, a video from the Lourdes Sanctuaries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QHGqf1BFx7I#!

Latest update 12:54 (UK time): From news reports it seems that the highest flooding was reached just before midnight on Tuesday 18 June. Today, the staff of the Sanctuaries, many on duty since 4 am have, since daybreak, been clearing mud as the waters recede. The Accueil Notre Dame, where our Pilgrimage stays, flooded to over a metre. The Low Stations of the Cross, flooded to 1.3 metres. Much of the town is still without electricity. Two government ministers are going to visit given the seriousness of the damage (Min for the Interior and Min for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy)

Latest update from Lourdes at 11.43 (France): The situation is extremely critical. Impossible to put a cost on clear up, but they fear the worst. In the Underground Basilica the flooding is so severe that the altar is completely submerged. St Joseph's Chapel is also submerged.

Latest Lourdes Sanctuary update at 10.20 on 19th June: Closed since yesterday morning, the Basilica of St. Pius X (the Underground Basilica) is also flooded with probably more than a metre of water. The damage is being evaluated and may be very considerable. The organization of human resources is gradually being implemented. Sanctuary employees are mobilized. Many volunteers are spontaneously offering help. We will start cleaning once the water has started to receed. It is likely that the Sanctuary will need the solidarity of all of you.

The Lourdes Sanctuaries issued the following update at 10am on Wednesday 19th June: "Our main concern is to continue the welcome of pilgrims who are on site in the best way possible. After a general power outage a check is currently in progress. The situation should be restored in the coming hours. It will also restore telephone links.
Despite the absense of light, masses are still being celebrated in difficult conditions. Accessible places of worship are those located on the upper part of the Sanctuary: the Immaculate Conception (Upper) Basilica, the Crypt, the Mater Dolorosa and Crux Gloriosa Chapel. Even though the flood water of the River Gave has not yet retreated, the damage is considerable and even more severe than in 2012."

News from Tangney Tours regarding the floods: John Tangney is on his way to Lourdes as we speak to see the damage and help the local people in anyway possible. These floods are much worse than those in October. We will keep you posted. Please keep all the Lourdes people in your prayers and thoughts.