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.

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