“Worst storm in living memory”

Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Hólmfríður Dagný Friðjónsd - RÚV
Residents of North and East Iceland are only now starting to assess the damage caused by this weekend’s storm—described by many in the East Fjords as the worst in living memory. The last of the storm has still yet to fully clear Iceland, and roads in the southeast of the country are still closed this evening. The final yellow weather alert expires at 23.00 tonight.

Travellers were left traumatised, and some slightly injured, when blown sand and gravel smashed windows in dozens of cars stuck on Route 1 at Möðrudalsöræfi in the northeast, between Mývatn and Egilsstaðir.

Vegagerðin (the road and coastal administration) was taken by surprise at how bad the weather there became. A spokesman admits with hindsight that the road should have been closed earlier, but adds that the wind is never usually that strong there, even in very bad midwinter storms—and that there is usually thick ice and snow in the winter to prevent sand and gravel blowing over the road.

Some 70 extra guests were helped to a local hotel by emergency services. That hotel was already nearly fully booked, but its owner told RÚV today there was no other option available than to make room.

Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Friðrik Árnason
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Friðrik Árnason
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Friðrik Árnason

Meanwhile, the power cut that affected nearly half the country for over two hours during the storm remained a mystery to authorities. It now transpires that the breaking of a 50-year-old power line set off a chain of events that led to a massive failure—the likes of which was considered nearly impossible following extensive infrastructure work carried out after the major storm in 2019. The outage this time was even bigger than in 2019, however.

Tré sem rifnaði upp úr jörðinni á Seyðisfirði
 Mynd: Hólmfríður Dagný Friðjónsd - RÚV
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Ragnar Sigurðsson

Many buildings in the East Fjords have been severely damaged, but few more so than the historically significant Angró-hús, a late 19th century timber building in Seyðisfjörður, which completely collapsed.

Overall, it is not clear who will have to pay for some of the damage, as the national disaster insurance fund which covers all buildings in Iceland does not cover damage caused by wind. Not everybody has the relevant private insurance to cover the damage either. It is not unlikely that the state will step in to provide financial relief.

Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Ragnar Sigurðsson
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Hólmfríður Dagný Friðjónsd - RÚV
26.09.2022 - 20:19