On a visit to the suburban town of Charenton just east of Paris, police chief Louis Lépine guided the president and his party around the flooded area, pointing his cane in the air to show the course of the water's progress. "Do you think," President Armand Fallières asked Lépine, "that the damage is worse here or in Paris?" Much worse in places like Charenton, Lépine asserted. Paris had the men, boats, and tools, he said, that were sadly lacking in the suburbs. "Poor people live in this area, and they have neither shelter nor resources."
As Lépine and the president slogged through the mud, they heard cries for help coming from an upper floor of a building surrounded by water. "So horrible!" the president exclaimed, and asked people to go to the aid of the person in need. Lépine ordered his men to hurry, and the agents ran off to find the shouting flood victim. As the president and Lépine were returning to the car, they heard other voices crying out, "Don't forget us! Help us!"