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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Flooded areas wake up to huge losses

Floodwaters were receding on Monday, and some roads and train lines were reopening, but residents of southwestern Norway were left facing enormous property damage and even possible unemployment. One major company that manufactures windows and doors sent out layoff notices, since its factory was swamped.

NorDan, which employs around 400 people in the town of Moi, was flooded with as much as 70 centimeters of water after the storm known as Synne started pounding the area with torrential rain and strong winds late last week. The storm that developed into what meteorologists call an “extreme weather system” also caused rivers and streams all over the southern Rogaland and western Agder counties to turn into raging torrents that rose as high as two- to three meters over their banks, and set off severe flooding.

Some communities still isolated
By Monday morning, for example, two local factories, the city hall, a local church, the fire station and many private homes in Moi alone were still battling the flooding, or remnants of it, and facing what could only be described as a huge mess. There was still no electricity in the NorDan buildings and there would be no “business as usual” for the time being: “We have given all the employees a general warning of pending layoffs, but many of them will be needed just to help clean up,” Tore Rasmussen, managing director of the door- and window-maker, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday morning.

It was a tough warning to receive, not least since many of the employees were also dealing with flood damage of their own. In some areas, homes were ripped off their foundations and swept away in the raging waters. As daylight finally broke after another long winter night, others could see that the land around their hopes had been swept away as well.

The towns in the Dalane area of Rogaland were hit the hardest, including Vikeså, Hovsherad, Moi and Egersund. In Agder, the towns of Feda and Kvinesdal were overwhelmed by the flooding. Several other small communities remained isolated on Monday because of blocked roads.

Transport routes blocked
Several train lines were also halted during the weekend storm and flooding, including Sørlandsbanen and Jærbanen. State railway NSB was still warning passengers of cancellations or delays on Monday, with the Hellvik-Egersund line closed because of flooded tracks. Service on Sørlandsbanen between Oslo, Kristiansand and Stavanger was rolling again, but passengers would need to transfer to alternative bus transport in some areas. All the trains between Sandnes and Stavanger were cancelled Monday morning.

Even though meteorologists sent out storm warnings last week, and noted that the storm was developing into “extreme” weather on Friday, most residents and local officials were surprised by the magnitude of the storm, and the flooding it set off.

“When we went home from work Friday, no one dreamed it would be so bad,” Rasmussen, the boss at NorDan, told NRK. “We had a flood 23 years ago, with around 20 centimeters of water on the floors, and we have always thought that was the worst that could happen.” On Sunday, the local Moisåna river was raging uncontrolled through the entire town, and meteorologists warned that even more rain was on the way. Berglund



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