A French appeals court has sentenced a former mayor to a suspended two-year prison term for ignoring flood risks and encouraging development in his Atlantic Coast town before aging sea walls collapsed in a 2010 storm that killed 29 people.

The storm, called Xynthia, smashed through thousands of homes, destroyed oyster farms, flooded ports and provoked heavy criticism of weak sea walls along the coast.

The former mayor, Rene Marratier, told reporters after the court decision Monday in Poitiers, in western France, that he has made "some mistakes" and he has been living "a hell" since then. The appeal court has also banned him from working as a civil servant.