While electricity has been restored to most areas affected by last week’s extreme weather, many areas of North Iceland continued to run on reserve power supplies as of this morning, RÚV reports. A few small areas still remain without power. Necessary repairs to damaged power lines will take days to complete.
No power, heat, or phone reception
Snow, wind, and ice damaged power lines and posts in North and East Iceland last Tuesday and Wednesday when a winter storm blew across the country. The resulting outages left some 20,000 without power, some areas for as long as five days. In areas where the hot water supply relies on electricity, homes quickly got cold indoors. Some residents found themselves without electricity, heat, radio, or even cell phone signals, unable to reach help in case of emergencies.
“Many farms were off-line, internet out and phone networks for a while, communication with the outside world was none, you couldn’t even listen to the radio, it all dropped out,” described Agnar Þór, Magnússon, a farmer in Högrárdalur, North Iceland. “It was very uncomfortable to know nothing at all about what was happening.”
Ministers visit affected areas
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir visited some of the affected areas on Friday, along with four government ministers, where they met local authorities to discuss the situation. In addition, a response group was set up that morning to review the region’s infrastructure. Minister of Transportation and Local Government Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson expressed his wish to streamline the process of laying power lines, stating that the government should be able to overrule landowners or environmental activists who oppose they laying of power lines.
Álfhildur Leifsdóttir, a local councillor in the municipality of Skagafjörður, criticised Sigurður Ingi for the statement, saying it was an attempt to shift the responsibility of the government and its agencies to landowners and activists “at a time when honest self-examination of infrastructure has never been more necessary!”
Local authorities urge government to react
The municipality of Hunaþing vestra sent out a statement criticising the poor energy infrastructure and lack of reserve power. The municipal council’s director Ragnheiður Jóna Ingimarsdóttir says the council will be bringing the issue to the state government.