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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Flooding leaves town in ruins

Sudden and massive flooding caused by more heavy rain this week has left a path of destruction and residents isolated, especially in the counties of Trøndelag. One local mayor described the center of Ålen as “one large crater” after the river Gaula rose way over its banks.

“Neither I nor anyone else here can understand how the damage could be so widespread,” a clearly shaken mayor of Holtålen township, Ivar Volden, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “People here are mostly wandering around and crying.”

Rain poured down again on Monday and the downpour continued through the night. Residents of Ålen in the county of Sør-Trøndelag said they were awakened Tuesday by the roar of the river.

‘Terribly afraid’
“I was terribly afraid,” one of the community’s 2,000 residents, Ratana Majparn, told newspaper Adresseavisen. “First I thought our house would be crushed, then came the noise and wind of the Sea King helicopter that arrived to lift us up from our veranda.”

Her husband, Rolf Lillevold, said the roar of the water woke them up around 3am: “We couldn’t believe our own eyes when we looked out and saw that our house was in the middle of all the raging water.”

The flood that even surprised hydrologists at the state agency in charge of Norway’s waterways, Norges vassdrags- og energidirektorat (NVE), is believed to be the strongest since 1941. The heavy rains caused the Gaula to rise at record speed, to record levels.

Mopping up
Clean-up efforts were underway on Wednesday, as they were elsewhere in southern and eastern Norway. Officials were warning that the rains and flood danger could spread to Nord-Trøndelag, while roads and railroad lines remained flooded, damaged or blocked also in Oppland, Buskerud and Hedmark counties.

Train service on the Dovrebanen, Rørosbanen and Nordlandsbanen lines remained halted or delayed, while service also was disrupted on the Meråkerbanen line towards Sweden. Officials at state railroad Jernbaneverket couldn’t assess damage or begin repairs on Rørosbanen until floodwaters through Ålen had receded.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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