Residents of Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard who’d been evacuated earlier this week because of storm damage fears were allowed to return to their homes on Thursday. Officials think the danger is finally over.
Svalbard’s local governor (sysselmannen) lifted the evacuation orders for Gruvedalen and byhundegården, while Melkeveien was also reopened. Governor Kjerstin Askholt stated in a press release that the danger of landslides and flooding was over.
“The affected areas have been inspected by folks from the Longyearbyen local government and landslide experts from UNIS this morning,” Askholt wrote. “Based on that, we have concluded that the evacuation orders can be lifted.”
They were first imposed when a major storm bore down on Svalbard, bringing forecasts of heavy rain. Such weather is highly unusually in a relatively dry Arctic area where it normally snows in November, not rains.
Svalbard residents have been particularly on edge since an avalanche last winter crashed through homes and killed two girls. Their parents are now filing a lawsuit against authorities, contending that warnings and preparations for avalanches had been inadequate.
Local residents were being called in for an information meeting on November 23. The theme would be evacuations and how they were handled this week, along with information on warning systems and surveillance of avalanche danger in the winter.