French towns swimming in floodwaters, now rising in on Paris

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French towns swimming in floodwaters, now rising in on Paris
A flooded street lamp is pictured next to the river Seine in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. Floodwaters were nearing their peak in Paris on Saturday, with the rain-swollen Seine River engulfing scenic quays and threatening wine cellars and museum basements. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — More than 200 French towns are struggling against floodwaters that have halted boat traffic in Paris, closed roads and schools and prompted the evacuation of hospitals.

Swollen by weeks of heavy rains, the Seine River is expected to reach its peak in the French capital late Sunday or early Monday.

Paris regional authorities say the floods have already caused damage in 240 towns. In Villennes-sur-Seine west of Paris, the ground floor of some buildings has disappeared underwater and residents are using boats instead of cars.

In Paris, cruise boat companies are suffering losses because all river traffic has been banned for days.

Police fined people who took a canoe Saturday into the Seine in central Paris, and sternly ordered others in a tweet against such actions, calling them “totally irresponsible.”