At least 20,000 homes remained without power Friday morning after the extreme weather system called “Ivar” blew in over central Norway on Thursday. The storm knocked down trees over power and telephone lines all around the Trøndelag counties, cutting off vital communications also for mobile phone customers.
Emergency crews were scrambling to repair the damage but were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task before them. Even the emergency centrals were knocked out in several areas, leaving many vulnerable and unable to call for any help needed.
‘Spare your batteries’
Officials were urging residents to only use those mobile phones still working as little as possible, to save their batteries since recharging possibilities were uncertain. Repair crews could report progress, however, since more than 50,000 households had been without power during the night.
Helicopters were dispatched Friday morning after the storm had eased, to survey damage and set priorities as to where repair crews should head. Utility firm TrønderEnergi reported that crews were working around the clock to restore both power and phone service.
The severe storm also caused lots of property damage, not least in the Stjørdal, where trees landed on parked cars and over buildings. In Malvik, the hurricane-force winds blew the roof off a retail complex.
Even the trains sought shelter
Traffic was disrupted as flights, ferries and some sailings of the coastal shipping line Hurtigruten were cancelled. State railway NSB ordered its trains to proceed to the nearest station on Thursday evening and stay there, both north of Dombås and south of Steinkjær, until winds eased. The storm hit the counties of Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag the hardest.
Schools and day care centers had sent children home early Thursday as the storm moved in towards Kristiansund on the northwest coast. Some heavy trucks that had ignored warnings to get off the roads ended up being blown over, for example on the E6 highway outside Trondheim.
Storms last week already caused an estimated NOK 100 million worth of damage, and the insurance organization FinansNorge faced rising claims on Friday. The weather was improving on Friday, though, and in Ålesund, city officials were breathing a sigh of relief after only one person was injured after being knocked over by a gust of wind.
“The storm was very intense for a few hours, but then died down as quickly as it came,” Ole Bjørn Harang of Ålesund told news bureau NTB. “That’s probably the reason that things went as well as they did.”