Icelandic authorities have decided not to lift the alert phase in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, while the areas affected by mudslides last month are still being cleaned and until the construction of protective barriers is completed. The town’s residents will likely face additional precautionary evacuations in the coming months when the weather forecast is unfavourable. Record rainfall in December caused several mudslides to destroy over a dozen buildings in the town, many of them historic.
Heavy machinery is being used in Seyðisfjörður to clean the area affected by a large mudslide that occurred on December 18, destroying several houses on Hafnargata street. The machinery is also being used to construct a protective levee above the affected houses. The area is considered a work area where unauthorised access is prohibited.
A notice from the Department of Civil Protection and East Iceland Police states there is “uncertainty” regarding the residential area surrounding where the mudslide fell. The local municipality of Múlaþing and representatives from the state Avalanche Fund have suggested fast-tracking the risk assessment for that area. The alert phase is expected to remain in effect until a preliminary assessment has been completed.
According to the Icelandic Met Office, which has placed equipment to monitor the slopes above the town, there is no imminent threat of further mudslides while the weather remains cold and dry. If there is considerable rainfall in the coming weeks, Seyðisfjörður residents can expect precautionary evacuations.