One of BRGM’s missions with respect to natural hazards is to assist public authorities in their response to crises. At the end of September 2021, BRGM, the French Geological Survey, worked with the Gironde prefecture on a full-scale exercise in the Arcachon basin.
Called “SAFFIR”, this exercise on coastal flooding was undertaken to transfer the know-how acquired by the General Directorate for Civil Security and crisis management under the aegis of the Ministry of the Interior, and by BRGM, which had previously designed and led RICHTER crisis management exercises on earthquakes.
A winter-storm scenario tested in the Arcachon basin
The various stakeholders involved in the exercise were able to test their response to a coastal flooding scenario linked to a winter storm, drawn up by BRGM with numerical modelling based on the actual storm Klaus but with an unfavourable conjunction with the tide.
The aim of the exercise was firstly to test the civil security response plan (Orsec) when faced with an event of this nature and to check the alert procedure, the coordination between the various players and the crisis management at the municipal level.
Scenarios (evacuation of the population, road closures, etc.) were also simulated in the field in several municipalities, both to test the stakeholders and to raise the population’s awareness of the risk of coastal flooding.
Some 40 organisations took part
Organised by the Gironde Prefecture in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Civil Security and Crisis Management and BRGM, the SAFFIR exercise brought together nearly forty participating entities, including government departments, the 10 municipalities bordering the Bay of Arcachon, the Syndicat intercommunal du Bassin d’Arcachon (SIBA), the Conseil Régional de Nouvelle Aquitaine, the Conseil Départemental de la Gironde, the Education Nationale, Météo France, the various emergency services (SDIS, Police Nationale, Gendarmerie) as well as certain companies such as RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité - Electricity transport grid), ENEDIS (Manager of electricity distribution throughout 95% of the region) and Orange (telephone and internet service provider), etc.