Reports began to circulate that the Seine had overrun the storage facility in the basement of the Louvre and that the water-soaked quay walls were buckling and bending under the pressure of the mounting river. Alongside the former palace with its precious artifacts, the sagging roadway threatened to collapse.
As soon as police arrived on the scene, they quickly shut off the streets on the side of the Louvre facing the Seine. Workmen began hauling hundreds of sandbags and dozens of shovels, the most basic tools of flood control, to the quay wall. The sound of the rushing water grew closer over the wall as several dozen engineers, soldiers, and city workers piled up sandbags, packing them tightly to reinforce the barrier. Shouts rang out to keep them coming, and row after row of bags went up, thudding into place as wet burlap met wet burlap.