Roads and rails under water again

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The unrelenting rains of the summer of 2011 continue to flood and wash away local roads and a major highway in southern Norway, as well as force closure once again of a key passenger- and cargo train line. Transport engineers say they’ve never seen anything like the water damage caused over the past several months.

The counties of Hedmark, Oppland and Sør-Trøndelag were the hardest hit on Tuesday, after more heavy rain led to new flooding and also forced evacuation of several holiday cabins and homes.

More slides and floods
A rockslide set off by torrential rain Monday afternoon closed the heavily traffiked E6 highway near Strandlykkja (which ironically means “waterfront happiness”) in Stange. It also hit the train line known as Dovrebanen that runs between Oslo and Trondheim, meaning that two key transportation arteries were blocked.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that neither was expected to re-open before Wednesday morning at the earliest. State railway NSB was offering alternative bus service for the line between Eidsvoll and Tangen but cautioned that delays should be expected.

The extreme weather also hit NSB’s Rørosbanen train line that travels through the eastern valley of Østerdalen, parallel and east of the valley of Gudbrandsdalen where the E6 and Dovrebanen line run. Flooding blocked the line between Elverum and Rustad, so NSB had to resort to alternative bus transport from Hamar all the way to Røros.

‘Dramatic’ and ‘chaotic’
Highway 3 through Østerdalen was also blocked between Rena and Elverum by flooding and the community of Holtålen in Sør-Trøndelag was called “dramatic” and “chaotic” after the rains set off a deluge in the town center of Ålen. Some residents of a threatened house were lifted out by a crane while another resident was trapped inside a house that rescue workers had trouble reaching because of the swirling floodwaters from the river Gaula. A Sea King helicopter and two air ambulances were standing by.

Meanwhile, Monday’s rain also made travel hazardous or impossible over many roads already saturated by the rain that pretty has poured down on southern Norway since early June.  This time it even hit the new, multi-lane motorway portions of the E6 highway and detours were set up via county highway 24, but it was threatened with closure as well.

Farther to the west, in the valley of Valdres, the E16 highway was closed at Vang by an earthslide and was expected to remain so for several days. The slide nearly took a house with it, and three persons were evacuated.

For photos, see NRK’s coverage here (external link, in Norwegian).

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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