Flooding inundated Southern Norway

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Homes have been evacuated, roads closed, boats swamped in marinas and cars washed away. Norway’s southern counties of East- and West Agder were among the hardest hit by rain so heavy during the weekend that it set off major flooding, especially around Kristiansand.

A pedestrian bridge over a creek leading into the Otra River through Kristiansand was just one of many to give way to floodwaters on Monday. PHOTO: Kristiansand kommune

“We’re worried about people’s lives, infrastructure and material values,” said state meteorologist Rafael Escobar Løvdahl as water levels kept rising in the Otra River that runs from the valleys north of Kristiansand out to the sea on the southern coast of Norway. “With so much water already, it’s difficult to know where it’s all going to go.”

That was even before another 100 millimeters of rain in Løvdahl’s weather forecast started falling during the night. Mudslides isolated communities around Torridal and the trainline running between Oslo and Kristiansand and on to Stavanger (Sørlandsbanen) was closed between  Vennesla and Kristiansand because the tracks were under water. Nor was there any electricity to run the trains, or serve homes and businesses in the area.

The wide mouth of the river just west of downtown Kristiansand was already flooding over its banks, right up against new condominium complexes, walkways and the marina. Farther up the river, flooding had already forced evacuations in Mosby, and cellars and homes were filled with water even in the Oddernes area. Some of the most important tunnels through Kristiansand were flooded and closed.

See state broadcaster NRK’s photos here.

“This is a crisis,” Edvard Haugland of Oddemarka Auto told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) as the water rose a full meter up along the walls of his car dealership. He had around 25 new and used cars parked in the basement and all were under threat.

NRK reported Monday morning that a man in his 70s was flown to hospital in Kristiansand after his car was swept away by the force of the water as he attempted to drive of Lølandsbridge at Vimostad in Lindesnes, Norway’s southernmost tip. His car was carried 60 to 70 meter before he could be pulled out of the car by divers. His condition was unclear.

There was also severe flooding at Søgne and all along the coast from Flekkefjord and Mandal to Arendal and beyond. State highway agency published a long list of roads closed or with restricted access as of mid-morning on Monday, in Vest-Agder County alone. Another list of road closures and restrictions was published for Øst-Agder County (external links).

Meteorologists feared the flooding would get worse before it gets better, although there were reports that the Otra River may have topped out. The heavy rain and strong winds reached north to Oslo during the night, while weather forecasts were better for the rest of the week, with the sun expected to come out from Tuesday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund