Nursing Home Pedicab Program a Wheely Great Success

Residents of the Dalbær nursing home in the North Iceland village of Dalvík are on the move these days, thanks to the ‘Cycling at Any Age’ program that provides pedicab services and outings for residents. RÚV reports that Dalbær is among the nursing homes currently participating in the program, which is sponsored by the organization Hjólfærni, or ‘Cyclecraft,’ a local offshoot of the movement of the same name started by John Franklin in the UK.

Arnar Símonarson is one of the Bike Buddies who regularly provides pedicab services for elderly residents. “I come up here to Dalbær now and then, when I have the time and opportunity, when I’m at loose ends, and I ride this hot rod here, which has been dubbed the Cool Cab.”

Arnar says that the number of rides provided each time varies, as do the destinations. “People want to go to the bank and the store, we go to Olís [a petrol station] and get ice cream, sometimes we go to the coffee house and the residents have a beer or something else. And then sometimes, we go up to the cemetery.”

Arnar believes that a pedicab such as the one he pilots in Dalvík should be at every nursing home in the country. “It’s wonderful to go out with the residents and see them smiling and getting a little color in their cheeks.” He says that he’s seen a real change amongst the residents since the pedicab became a regular feature of their day-to-day lives. “We can see the happiness and vitality and people return a bit refreshed,” says Arnar.

The Dalbær residents agree. Kristján Loftur Jónsson is one of Arnar’s regular passengers and says that he enjoys getting out for some fresh air and that his favorite places to go are the coffee house or the corner store where he gets an ice cream when the weather’s nice.

Arnar concluded by saying that there’s no reason to fear getting old if you can remain engaged the world. “Growing old doesn’t mean having to disappear from life. Life is out there,” he remarked. “We just have to go out and grab it.”

Man Killed in Avalanche in North Iceland Yesterday

fatal accident Iceland

A man died in an avalanche in Svarfaðardalur in North Iceland yesterday. The man was travelling with two others, both of whom sustained severe injuries.

“Well-equipped, experienced mountaineers”

Three American men, born in 1988, were caught in an avalanche in Svarfaðardalur, North Iceland, yesterday.

After one of them notified emergency responders (at 19:10 yesterday), an emergency helicopter was dispatched, along with rescue teams from Dalvík, Siglufjörður, and Akureyri.

According to a FB post by the police in Northeast Iceland, the three men were “well-equipped, experienced mountaineers,” and all of them sustained severe injuries; one of the men was pronounced dead on the scene.

Further detail not available

The other two men were transported to a hospital in Akureyri, with one later being taken to the National University Hospital in Reykjavík. Details on their condition have not been made public.

Approximately 130 rescue workers took part in the search, which concluded shortly before midnight.

“It took some time to gather information about the man’s family in the US,” the police in Northeast Iceland stated. “Once we had obtained that information, the US Embassy helped inform the man’s loved ones about his death. The deceased was single and had no children.”

An investigation into the events is underway.

Humpback Whales Sighted Close to Shore in North Iceland

A pair of humpback whales was sighted close to shore in North Iceland, Vísir reports.

The whales were captured in a drone video taken by Dalvík resident Jóhann Már Kristinsson, who was on his way to work when a friend, who happens to own a whale watching company, called and urged him to join an outgoing tour as whales had been spotted in the area.

“Straight to the point. A humpback whale really putting his all into catching its lunch,” wrote Jóhann on Twitter. “Right offshore btw I was on dry land when I took this,” he continued. “WILD! Then swam off with its cousin. Satisfied and happy.”

Jóhann wasn’t able to make it onto the whale watching boat, but found a vantage point near Múlagöng, the tunnel that connects Dalvík and Ölafsfjörður, from which he was able to take his drone video.

Earthquakes Shake North Iceland

An earthquake measuring 5.6 was felt in towns and villages in North Iceland on Saturday afternoon, RÚV reports.

The quake occurred just after 3.00pm, and was centred offshore, roughly 20km (7.5mi) northeast of Siglufjörður. According to the Icelandic Met Office, it came on the heels of a similarly sized quake, measuring 5.3, in the same area, and was felt by residents in Dalvík, Hofsós, Siglufjörður, and Akureyri, and as well as those in the municipality of Hörgársveit, further inland.

The Tjörnes fracture zone started experiencing an earthquake swarm on Friday afternoon, peaking with the 5.6 quake on Saturday. Following this, there were a number of smaller quakes, many of which were measured at a 3.0 or higher.

Though the largest earthquake was felt all around the region, it doesn’t seem to have caused any substantial damage and police in the area said they received fewer calls about it than expected, most likely because sunny weather had taken most people outdoors on Saturday afternoon.

Coast Guard Ship Þór Supplying 70% of Dalvík’s Electricity

An employee of Rarik connects cables to the Coast Guard ship Þór

The coast guard ship Þór is currently supplying 70% of the electricity in Dalvík in North Iceland, Vísir reported this morning. The village experienced a complete electrical blackout following a historic storm earlier this week. Dalvík is the main village of the Icelandic municipality of Dalvíkurbyggð. It has a population of approximately 1,400 residents.

Þór to the Rescue

A Hercules aircraft, owned by the Danish air force, delivered a tonne’s worth of electrical cable to Dalvík yesterday. Employees of Rarik, the official energy corporation of Iceland, used the cables to connect Þór to the town’s electrical system. This marks the first time that Þór is utilized as a movable power station, a bulletin on the Icelandic Coast Guard’s states. The vessel is capable of transmitting 2MW of electricity:

“The ship was designed with the capability of delivering electricity to remote places during power blackouts. Before now, electrical companies and utility firms have not felt it necessary to utilize this feature of the ship.”

Working Around the Clock

Other parts of Dalvík are being powered by diesel backup generators, according to a bulletin posted on the homepage of Rarik. The announcement states that Rarik employees in North Iceland have been working around the clock over the past days. Despite having yet to restore electricity to approximately a quarter of the town (mainly businesses), many small victories were won last night, a Rarik employee stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið this morning.

It will still be a few days until the so-called Dalvík Line – a series of pylons that deliver electricity to the town – will be repaired. 20 pylons ruptured during the storm. Rarik may need to ration power to Dalvík, and residents are encouraged to be economical in their use of electricity. 

A Brief Overview

As noted by Morgunblaðið this morning, North Iceland is experiencing significant power outages. Electricity has been restored to almost all of the farms in Heggstaðanes and Vatnsnes in North Iceland, excluding two farms in Heggstaðanes and three in Vatnsnes. Reykjaströnd is still without electricity, and there are minor outages in Skagafjörður. The area surrounding Akureyri is experiencing more significant outages and it is unclear when repairs will finish. Most of Öxnadalur and Hörgárdalur is without electricity and so almost all of Laxárdalur. Svarfaðardalur is currently in a complete electrical blackout. The same is true for Tjörnes. Many residents of Öxarfjörður are without electricity, owing to at least ten power line poles having ruptured The rural area of Melrakkaslétta north of Kópasker, is without electricity. A diesel backup generator is supplying electricity to Raufarhöfn. The same holds true for Þórshöfn, Þistilfjörður, and Bakkafjörður. 

Whale of a Watching Season in North Iceland

This summer has been particularly good for whale watching in North Iceland, Vísir reports. According to one representative, Freyr Antonsson of Arctic Adventures in the North Iceland village of Dalvík, his company made 180 whale watching trips in July and saw a whale on all but four of them.

“We’ve had to sail a bit further out than where their food supply is, but there’s nothing unusual about that,” he remarked. “Yesterday, I went on three trips. In the morning, I saw one humpback, in the middle of the day, I saw five, and then one in the later part of the day. All in the same spot.”

There have been reports that few whales have been sighted of late in Eyjafjörður, the fjord on which the town of Akureyri is located. According to Freyr and others in the whale watching industry, however, that problem hasn’t extended beyond the fjord.