On 21 September 1891 - Saunière made an entry in his diary. He wrote: “letter received from Granès, discovery of a tomb (“tombeau”), rain in the evening.” It is a famous entry for those who are interested in the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau.
The weather had been of some concern to Saunière. In the days leading up to the famous entry Saunière had recorded the following weather observations:
9th. violent wind, it's bad
10th. the wind redoubles in strength, the harvest is damaged
11th. the wind continues the same
12th. wind the same
13th. wind, rain, thunder and lightning
15th. nice weather,
20th. in the evening, Lightning, Thunder and rain
21st. découverte d'un tombeau, rain in the evening
22nd. Rain in the night
We also know the weather was extremely volatile at this time. On the 25th, 26th October, 1891 the bad weather culminated in a flood of the river Aude, and the department of the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales were devastated by terrible floods. Numerous and spectacular floods of rivers in the departments occurred and the municipalities of Rennes-les-Bains and Couiza, in the Aude high valley were hit very hard, as well as the towns of Limoux, Carcassonne and Narbonne and the entire coastal plain. [see HERE].
Below is an entry from Musique et patrimoine of Carcassonne - remembering these devestating floods. They say:
"On 25th October 1891, the department of Aude was completely devastated by terrible floods wreaking destruction, ruin and death. The most abundant amounts of rain fell in the Corbières following the Orbieu basin to that of the Aude and its tributaries upstream of Carcassonne. The very moderate wind of the northwest pushed the clouds above the mountains; their stay very long, which explains the strong rain accumulations in these areas.
The storm rumbled from 24 October continued until 8.30 in the morning with a dense and regular rain, coinciding with a rapid barometric depression peaking at 732mm8 on 25th October. It transformed city streets into torrent where 45mm of water was already present. After a lull at 12:45, the wind began to blow. At 3:20 p.m., another storm of extreme violence accompanied by lightning and thunder. Around 17.ooh, we measured ten millimeters of extra water in the streets. The rain stopped at 4 am; 180mm was measured so that in less than 20 hours, 281 millimeters of rain had fallen.
The Aude overflowed at 2 am, amounting to 8 meters over the water level. The water flooded all areas of the city spreading disorder and panic among residents.
"This is between eleven and two o'clock in the night that the Aude, extraordinarily swollen by rain falling continuously, began to spread widely out of it's bed The suburbs are inundated: all areas along the river were, in no time, transformed into islands with belted deep channels formed by the red and muddy water of the Aude. The water rushes into the cellars, in the corridors, in the apartments, even in beds, awakening suddenly those who had been peacefully asleep for some hours before. Many rushed to leave their homes, carrying some personal effects ..... others were identified in their apartments by a strong current and incessant, growing desperate cries for help, and during that time, the river continues its ravages, wailing in cultivated fields, breaking trees and fences, demolishing the walls and causing everything in its path to perish. And it rains...
The flood of Aude met and exceeded all previous floods marked at low water. The waters have advanced inside the city, up the street from the prefecture. That is to say, nearly 500 meters at least outside of the bed. The neighborhoods affected were, first, those vegetable gardens and those of the Palais, the Pont Neuf and the Old Bridge, La Digue and the suburbs surrounding the river bank, ascending beyond Montplaisir and Patte's feet. The gardens were submerged; they contained houses that had collapsed or are damaged, the residents were forced to climb on roofs waiting for rescue. All along the river, from Old Bridge to beyond the abattoir, one sees only the demolished walls, the collapse of land, pressed grids; Montplaisir's cabin was removed and swept away by the flood; the electrical workshop of the Southern Company, Mill Island, nearby factories, the gas plant, the plant Sainte-Marie, the Guilhem factory, Poitevin property, property St-jean, etc ... All this was visited by the water causing considerable damage.
We go to see the wash of the waves, & in those waves are objects of furniture, residential sections, the bodies of dead horses ... At the General Hospital, the basements and chapel were abruptly invaded by water that stood at the arches of the Old Bridge, and caused this place a collapse of 7 to 8 square meters. Immediately, we evacuated the children staying at the hospital and the other hosts; Mr. Delsol, lawyer, member of the hospices of the Commission, Mr. and Mrs. Delsol Sauzède organized relief and helped to preserve the people at this charity. Mothers are evacuated to the Hotel-Dieu where the water does not reach the rooms.
In Bellevue Street Mr. Lhuilier, the gym teacher, was awakened by the arrival of the water; he jumps out of the window and escapes by swimming. Near the abattoir is the Arbiade family rescued by a fisherman. In de la Digue, a cavalry captain, found refuge on the roof with his wife. Between the Pont Neuf and the Pont-Vieux, the dramatic rescue of the entire family Lasserre & others, rescued by boats manned by the gendarmes. In the Rue Basse, two women died: Marie Rigaud (born Andrieu) of 51 years; Adeline Andrieu wife of Jean Rigaud, 17, of Montreal. All streets were blocked by pumps that drain the water-filled caves. The loss of the inhabitants is considerable; many families are homeless. There is more telegraphic communications. The Maymou bakery suffered tremendously; horses, carts and various vehicles, wheat bags, bread heaps were washed away. All equipment of the Brewery Lauer is under water. In the Southern Power Company, new machines were broken and part of béal built to conduct water was crumbling. In neighborhoods of Trivalle and the Barbican, the small houses of local industrious workers' families were destroyed.
The old Limoux bridge after the flood
In Limoux it looked like a bombed city. Flooded streets full of slimy mud and cluttered with wrecks. The house called the Ark of the Old Bridge, completely collapsed. Two old women were buried under the rubble. An artificial buttress protected them. The house Cadenat, shoemaker, and Constans, owner, St-Antoine Street, Smalltown, are completely collapsed. The house of Mr. Lamouroux, rue Saint-Martin, praised Mr. Denat Cadet (butcher) has all the part facing the street collapsed. The side of the St. Martin Street threatens to collapse. The houses of Messrs. Butcher and Esteve are washed away. The mills of Maynard and Sournies destroyed. Old Bridge is almost in ruins. The gardens of the Sub-prefecture of the Hospice and the Presbytery are washed away. The sulfur plant is partially demolished. In M. Peyre, the water washed away 500 hogsheads of wine.The Castera Moula and cafes are destroyed. The house of Mr. Numa Trauque and part of that of Mr. Clercy, Blanquerie street, form a mountain of ruins and under this upheaval are 12 victims. This house was inhabited by Mr. Trauque, his wife, Mr. Ducasse, admits his young daughter, the family Raynaud comprising five persons, Mr. Cabanes (plasterer) and her daughter, Mrs. Saint-Loup and his son. On hearing the creaking of the house and unable to escape through the streets, they go up on the roof of Mr. Clercy, their neighbor. Mr. Ducasse goes first, Mr. Renier said Tillet (mason), their neighbor, is at his side and when they will make the rescue, a terrible creaking, with great cries resounded; Mr. Ducasse looks into the void to seize on those dear to him; he will disappear in turn; Renier retains and away from the place of the horrible disaster. Mr. Ducasse was going to save his wife, he held out his hand; the house collapses, Miss and Ms Ducasse are broken by the landslide. Mr. Ducasse was mad with grief. In the morning, we carried out the search for victims: Mr. Trauque (50 years) and his wife (29 years); Mrs. Raynaud holds entwined corpses of a son and daughter, aged 9. The disasters were so great in Limoux that the military authority comes to the aid of the city. The garrison of Carcassonne provides two platoons of dragoons and of Montpellier, a strong team of sappers.
Some examples in the department.
The railway is destroyed over a length of 160 meters, on the axis Carcassonne-Quillan. A Puichéric, half the village is flooded; several bridges were destroyed and 300 people in the street. Some of them took refuge in the church. At Lagrasse, two men are missing. The barracks and the houses are demolished. At Lastours, operating buildings of lead-silver mines were razed. At Conques, Orbieu and Rieussec the rivers overflowed. The house of the lower part of the village are under 1.50 meters of water. The bridge of Villalier is partly destroyed. At Trèbes the Orbiel emptied himself into the Canal du Midi, overturning the parapets of the canal bridge. In Luke, the bridge collapsed and the embankment Fabrezan bridge collapsed.
Even with my not so perfect translation one can see the utter devestation caused by the floods. And of course we have seen, in 1992, a smaller version of the flooding of the area and how much damage was done then in Rennes-les-Bains [for example the church cemetery was washed away!].
- Weather forecast
Printing Polère in Carcassonne (1892)
- L'Express du Midi
© Copyright / Music and Heritage / 2016
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My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.