Everywhere, this tropical storm has left its mark: in the riverbeds, now widened by several meters, in the color of the sea, which has swapped its turquoise for a brown hue, along the roads and even in the banana plantations around the cities, entire sections of which have been flattened by the wind.

Located to the southeast of the island of Basse-Terre, Capesterre-Belle-Eau is one of the largest municipalities in Guadeloupe – with 17,741 inhabitants (in 2019) – popular with tourists for its waterfalls, the highest in Guadeloupe, and its rivers.

But in a few hours, in the night from Friday to Saturday, the small streams contained in the ravines ravaged everything in their path, growing under the onslaught of the storm which dumped more than 500 mm of water in places. One of the “very impressive rain accumulations”, according to the Guadeloupe Meteorological Center, recorded since the start of the episode on Friday.

In a small lane, opposite the former Marquisate sugar factory, the road fell 12 meters lower, leading to the terrace of one of the houses overlooking the ravine.

“In the night we heard a loud noise but we thought it was thunder,” says the tenant of the house, Mathias Virgnaud. “In the morning, when we got up we immediately saw the mud in the house, the destroyed terrace, and above all, we could hear the roar of the water”.

A little shaken, this 42-year-old electrician, his wife and their three children have decided to move: the house now rests only on a mound of earth, and “it would only take another rainy episode to bring it down”, s they worry.

Around their homes, onlookers gather on both sides of the road, still impressed by the power of the tropical phenomenon.

– “Rare intensity” –

Some victims left to seek refuge elsewhere. Others come out of their houses, wheelbarrows of mud and rubbish in their hands. The tired face, sometimes closed.

“My neighbors opposite have not yet returned, everything was turned upside down at home, they had almost 2 m of water,” says Marcelle Alexandre, 50, housekeeper.

Further down the waterfront, the craft village was hit. One of the small houses, carried away by the water, crashed below the road, where children pass on bicycles trying not to slip on the mud.

“There are certain places where it will take major work, consolidate, reinforce, redo everything”, underlines an agent of the municipality, Dany Dabricot, counting on the declaration of the state of natural disaster, which should be recognized at the end of week according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Frantz Francillette, owner of a tattoo parlour, completes the cleaning of his premises, helped by “friends”, without knowing when it will reopen.

Everyone comments on the events of the day before: the deafening sound of rain on the sheet metal of the roofs, the fear of the water invading the streets and homes, the amazement the next day in front of the images on social networks.

Jack Sainsily, director of the Guadeloupe Council for Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment, came to see the extent of the damage. “Even if we were in an event of rare intensity, we built housing in areas close to rivers which have always overflowed, he laments. I think we forgot that we live in a tropical zone. and traditional planning knowledge”.

And, citing areas like the Grands Fonds (in the hinterland), in Grande Terre (east wing of Guadeloupe), he adds: “The risk of landslides exists everywhere in Guadeloupe”. Even without rain.