PARIS, June 6 (UPI) -- Insurers met with the French government Monday to assess the damage caused by flooding as the Seine river receded from its highest level.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the country has an emergency fund available to those left homeless after floods, caused by torrential rain, struck France's Centre and Ile-de-France regions. He added that a full assessment of the damage has not yet been made, but insurance companies and government officials have begun offering estimates.
The cost "may be higher" than the $1.3 billion reported by French media, Juliette Meadel, Minister of State for Victim Assistance, said Sunday in a television interview. The French insurance industry association AFA estimated the costs Friday at $682 million; the Paris newspaper Figaro reported that Maif, one of France's largest insurers, put the cost at $2.6 billion.
In a radio interview Sunday, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the floods would not significantly impact the national economy, and President François Hollande said the government would declare the flooding a national disaster by June 8, allowing for insurance claims to be filed.
The Seine's water levels fell Sunday as rains eased. A reading last week indicated it was near the mark, reached in 1982, of 20.27 feet above its normal level, the Environment and Energy Ministry reported. By Sunday it was down to 18 feet above normal, the flood observation firm Vigicrues said.