The main hospital in southern Norway, Sørlandet Sykehus in Kristiansand, had to cancel all planned operations on Monday and send emergency patients elsewhere. Heavy rain on Sunday set off local flooding that poured into the hospital’s cellar and disrupted its power supply.
All emergency cases were being diverted to smaller hospitals in Arendal, around a 50-minute drive farther up the coast, and Flekkefjord, while hospital officials in Kristiansand tackled what could only be described as an enormous mess. The heavy rain and a clogged drainage system adjacent to a nearby creek literally sent the creek’s water into the hospital’s lower level.
Corridors lined with stored, sterilized hospital beds that were supposed to be ready for use were suddenly under nearly a meter of water. The flooding knocked out power to such critical areas of the hospital as its intensive care ward and its X-ray facilities, and the flood waters also damaged various forms of hospital equipment.
Patients already admitted to the hospital were lying on the upper floors of the hospital and in no immediate danger, according to hospital officials, while those lying in intensive care were quickly moved to other wards that still had power. Emergency generators also kicked in, and power was mostly restored Sunday night, but the situation remained precarious and sanitation issues rose along with the muddy, dirty water.
Per W Torgersen, operations director at the hospital, said the flooding “destroyed power supplies to the X-ray department” and damaged the server room for the hospital’s two CT scanners and its MR scanner.
The full extent of the damage to the hospital remained unclear Monday morning but it was described by one hospital administrator as “massive, with dramatic consequences for our operations over the next several days.” Per Engstrand, medical director at the hospital, said that only women on the verge of delivering babies with no time to get to the other hospitals could be admitted.
The pressure from the water was so strong that it toppled a wall in a hospital exercise room used by employees. Exercise equipment was strewn around the room, and the locker rooms where hospital employees change into their hospital uniforms were also flooded.
As the water receded Monday, corridors and floors were left covered with a layer of mud. “It’s sad to see how water can cause such widespread damage,” Engstrand said. The mopping-up process will be critical in order to ward off infection.
Emergency crews and even local civil defense forces were making efforts to clean up the flooding after Sunday’s heavy rainfall, which also caused problems for at least 40 homeowners in the area and flooded roads throughout the county of Vest-Agder.