Avalanche fears force evacuations

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Dozens of families were evacuated in the northern county of Troms over the weekend, after more bad weather raised fears of more avalanches in the area. Most had to be taken from their homes on snowmobiles, because roads were blocked.

Around 40 persons went along with local officials’ warnings that they should leave their homes in places like Oldervik, and Breivikeidet north of Tromsø. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday morning that more persons were likely to be evacuated during the day.

Stormy season
Northern Norway and much of the rest of the country have been clobbered by strong winds and more heavy snowfall during the past week. Scores of roads have been closed and ferry service disrupted because of the storms, which on Sunday led to extreme danger of avalanche.

“Of course we get worried when you get as much precipitation as we’ve had in the past week,” one of the evacuees, Karl Alberth Hansen of Oldervik, told NRK. He and his family were sent to a hotel in Tromsø until the avalanche danger subsides.

Others living in Breivikeidet and in Sifjord on Senja were asked to leave their homes on Sunday. Hansen said his family has been evacuated on earlier occasions as well, and they seemed to take it in stride.

“We feel we’re very well taken care of by Norges Geotekniske Institutt (the state geological institute), the police in Troms and local officials,” Hansen said. “We can live with leaving our homes for a few days, until the danger is over.” He said he had no intention of moving from the area and Norwegian officials want to keep outlying areas around the country populated.

‘I’m not scared’
Blizzard conditions were raging as Red Cross and county workers carried residents to safety. Inger Hauan, age 66, was among those evacuated from Breivikeidet and was as calm as Hansen.

“I have lived here for 50 years, and avalanches and slides are just something you live with,” Hauan told NRK. “I’m not scared, if I was, I wouldn’t live here.”

State officials have called this winter one of the worst in many years, but also noted that more skiing and scooters in steep terrain has set off several slides. Eleven persons have been killed so far this year, the highest level since the winter of 1986-1987.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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