PARIS — The Louvre and Orsay museums in Paris moved artworks stored underground to safety on Friday as the swollen river Seine kept rising, the city’s deputy mayor said, following days of torrential rains that have killed two people.
Floodwaters have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and dozens of schools have closed south of Paris. Earlier this week the army was also called in to rescue stranded motorists on a major highway.
“For the museums, even if fortunately there isn’t any flooding of storerooms as of today, there is an automatic process… to move works in the deepest storerooms higher,” Bruno Julliard, Paris’ deputy mayor, told France Inter radio.
The Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay are both home to world-renowned art collections.
Julliard said the works in the museums, which overlook the Seine, were not at risk as of early Friday. Some low lying roads running along the river are underwater and one underground commuter line has been closed.
Officials forecast the Seine could peak at 19.7 feet in central Paris on Friday, stressing this is still well below the level where it would threaten residents and businesses.
Environment Minister Segolene Royal told France 2 television that the retreating waters could reveal further victims.
In Evry-Gregy-sur-Yerre, south of Paris, a man on horseback drowned on Thursday, becoming the second fatality. Le Parisien newspaper said the 74-year-old had been trying to cross a flooded field.
This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.