Not a sound on this Monday morning in the streets of this town of 350 inhabitants, apart from the Ennedis trucks and the firefighters clearing away. And a landscape of desolation.
The episode, extremely rare, took the village by surprise in the early evening, around 7:00 p.m. The Pas-de-Calais was however only classified as “yellow” vigilance for thunderstorms by Météo France.
The prefecture evokes “strong gusts of wind of the tornado type”. But the inhabitants, they have no doubt: “It was not a mini-tornado, it was a tornado!”, They launch, annoyed.
“I saw it happen last night, it was huge. I said to myself, we’re not going to have a barrack anymore,” says a forty-year-old to his neighbor, with wet eyes.
“It lasted thirty seconds. When you see the disaster it looks like a bombardment. Incredible…”, says Christian Cabaret, 71, whose house was spared.
It is “sad”, he says, for those who have been affected: “It’s their savings that are going away, it’s their lives”.
– Skeletal frame –
About 150 people had to be relocated, according to the prefecture, which reported only one minor injury. The town hall has opened the village hall to take care of the inhabitants.
The damage is considerable.
In some houses, the gutted roofs reveal a framework that looks like a skeleton. In others, the parts are completely bare. We can guess traces of everyday life: a coat hanger, a microwave, a fan…
The roof of the village church was partially torn off. Only the foundations of the adjacent house remain.
Rubble, pieces of wall and branches litter the ground. Some windshields are shattered. An electric pole seems ready to topple over a house.
A large stuffed elephant lies in a garden, among the debris, under a completely torn roof from which hangs glass wool.
And the wind is still blowing, waving cables and bits of sheet metal.
A couple in their forties, looking exhausted, faces defeated, faces their dilapidated house, without roof or windows. Bags and suitcases in hand, they have “no time”, they say, to express themselves.
– “There is nothing left” –
Two friends accompany them, from surrounding villages, out of solidarity, to help them recover their belongings.
“The village was really devastated. Three quarters of the village” and in some streets “there is nothing left”, says Mabrouka Dhifallah, an LR regional councilor, present on the spot.
“Last night a resident said to me, you know madam, I lost in five seconds what I built in twenty years. You have to be there to understand the extent of the damage. It’s chaotic, it’s is a disaster,” she added.
In the heart of the village, some have “lost everything”. And they don’t have permission to enter the area yet.
“Streets must be made safe,” said a security official. “Residents have been banned from entering part of the streets because cables are still hanging, tiles are threatening to fall”.
The firefighters continue to carry out reconnaissance, “house by house”, “to find out if the inhabitants can go and collect some belongings”, says one of them.
They identify 43 interventions in a total of four municipalities, but Bihucourt is by far the most affected.
In the Somme, the town of Conty went through a similar episode on Sunday evening, a “mini-tornado” with “a lot of material damage”, according to the prefecture.