In Due Force

Seyðisfjörður

Autumn’s gauze curtain On Sunday, October 3, Hlöðver Hlöðversson stared into a camera in Northeast Iceland. He wore a cream-coloured cap, a grey jacket, and a stern expression. Behind him, there was mist and marshland – only that marshland would not have been an accurate description of the landscape a few days previous. “Is this […]

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Seyðisfjörður Residents May Return Home

The evacuation order in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland has been lifted and the alert phase due to landslide risk has been lowered to an uncertainty phase, the Civil Protection Department announced in a notice sent to media yesterday afternoon. According to calculations presented on October 11, the deflecting and catching dams above the town should divert any landslides toward the sea and prevent damage to buildings in the town. Residents living in the defined risk area have thus been permitted to return to their homes.

A series of landslides destroyed 14 buildings, including residential homes, in Seyðisfjörður last December. Around 20 residents were evacuated earlier this month after movement was detected in a mountain ridge above the town. That movement has slowed in recent days, according to the Civil Protection Department. However, fissures have formed in the ridge, increasing the likelihood it will break apart. “If it falls, it will probably do so in a few sections,” the notice states. “This can be expected during a rainy period sometime in the near future.”

Even if the ridge falls all at once, calculations showed the existing barriers should divert the resulting landslide away from the town. In light of that information, East Iceland Police has lifted the evacuation order on the remaining five houses that were still evacuated and lowered the alert phase placed on the area to an uncertainty phase. Hikers are reminded to exercise caution on the paths near Búðará and other locations where the barriers divert potential landslides.

The Icelandic Met Office provides regular updates on data collected in the area.

Seyðisfjörður Houses to be Relocated After Mudslides

Nearly 20 apartments will be built in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, to replace some of the housing that was destroyed by mudslides at the end of last year. Local Council Head Björn Ingimarsson hopes the new apartments will be ready this autumn. Houses near the affected area that remain evacuated will be relocated to other parts of the town.

Fourteen houses were destroyed in mudslides that devastated Seyðisfjörður shortly before Christmas last year. In addition to family homes, many cultural artifacts were damaged by the mudslides. Some houses near the impacted area were evacuated permanently: new locations have been found for all of the houses within the town and they will eventually be relocated, Björn stated in a radio interview on RÚV this morning.

“These are houses we want to continue to use, as they have both cultural value and residential value,” Björn stated. The houses’ former residents, as well as those whose homes were destroyed in the mudslides, have all found new housing, either temporary or permanent. Other construction projects are on the horizon for the East Iceland town, including a tunnel that will connect it to Egilsstaðir: construction will begin next year. Björn says the locality hopes to use material from the tunnel to build up an industrial area by the harbour.

Located in a picturesque fjord, Seyðisfjörður is a town of nearly 700 residents and is where the Norræna ferry docks on its trips between Iceland and Scandinavia. Hundreds were displaced by the mudslides last year, which luckily did not cause any injuries or fatalities.

Seyðisfjörður Mudslides: Residents Evacuated Again

Residents of Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, were evacuated from six of the town’s streets yesterday evening due to the danger of landslides. The National Police Commissioner, in consultation with the East Iceland Chief of Police and the region’s Met Office, has declared a phase of alert in the town due to landslide risk. Over a dozen of the town’s buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged by mudslides last December.

There was heavy rainfall in the town yesterday evening and across the region. Rain combined with thawing snow and above-freezing temperatures are conditions that increase the likelihood of landslides from the steep slopes above the fjord town. The evacuation was called “precautionary” by authorities, who are still evaluating whether the Botnabrún slope has destabilised further following the largest of the December landslides. Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing in the mountains on Thursday.

East Iceland experienced a high number of avalanches, slush floods, and landslides over last weekend. Three houses in Seyðisfjörður were also evacuated on Sunday, February 14 but the evacuation order was called off the following day.

Avalanches, Landslides, and Slush Floods in East Iceland

Seyðisfjörður

A state of uncertainty has been declared in East Iceland due to the ongoing danger of avalanches and landslides. It rained heavily in the region yesterday and avalanches, slush floods, and rockfalls were reported in a dozen areas spanning from Höfn in Southeast Iceland to Borgarfjörður eystri in the country’s northeast. The events have led to property damage and damaged a power line, but no injuries have been reported.

The most precipitation yesterday was measured at Borgarfjörður eystri, or around 130 mm, while measurements were almost as high in Neskaupsstaður, Fáskrúðsfjörður, and Eskifjörður. In Seyðisfjörður, where devastating mudslides destroyed over a dozen buildings in December, rainfall measured 70mm. The rain has since let up. Weather will be warm and windy today and the risk of avalanches is ongoing.

Three homes were evacuated in Seyðisfjörður last night, but the evacuation order has since been called off.

Seyðisfjörður Mudslides: New Apartments Ready in Spring

New rental housing could be completed in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland as early as this spring, RÚV reports. Rental company Bríet, the Minister of Social Affairs, and several other parties signed a declaration of intent to construct apartments in the picturesque town, where mudslides destroyed 12 buildings and heavily damaged five others last December.

Read More: Evacuation Lifted in Seyðisfjörður

While evacuation orders for the town have been lifted, a preliminary risk assessment has determined that four buildings in the mudslide area may no longer be used as residential housing due to the risk of further landslides at the location. An uncertainty phase remains active in Seyðisfjörður due to ongoing risk of mudslides and residents have been told to expect evacuations in the coming months if weather conditions are unfavourable.

Planning Already Begun

Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason expressed his hope that the apartments would be ready in the spring. “The rental company Bríet was founded due to measures we took to ensure housing development in the countryside,” he stated. “And because we launched this control measure, we can respond quickly here in co-operation with the municipality, which we otherwise would not have been able to do.” Construction planning has begun for the project and representative expect to decide where the apartments will be located in the coming weeks.

Ásmundur says the Ministry of Social Affairs has set aside funding through the Housing and Construction Authority as well as Bríet to support families that have lost their homes due to the mudslides.

Seyiðsfjörður Mudslides: Evacuation Lifted, Alert Level Lowered

Several residents of Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, can return to their homes now that the evacuation order on Hafnargata street has been lifted. The order applies to the houses standing under Múlinn: numbers 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16b, and 18c on Hafnargata street. Further risk of mudslides is no longer considered imminent and the National Police Commissioner and the Police Commissioner in East Iceland have decided to lower the civil protection phase in the town from danger alert to uncertainty phase. Danger alert has been in effect from December 20, when it was reduced from crisis phase, due to a large mudslide which fell last December 18.

Cleaning has been ongoing in the East Iceland town since several mudslides destroyed over a dozen buildings in the town, both residential and industrial, many of them historic. The houses under Múlinn have all been evacuated since December 18, when the largest of several mudslides fell on the town.

A notice from the Civil Protection and Emergency Management Department says cleaning efforts have been successful in recent weeks, and emergency levees to protect from further landslides have been completed in some areas. Further risk of mudslides is being closely monitored and “is not considered imminent in the coming days.” The levees are considered an interim solution while more permanent mudslide protection is being considered.

Read More: Seyðisfjörður Mudslides Destroy 14 Houses

Four residential buildings in the town, located by Stöðvarlækur creek, still remain evacuated. A specific risk assessment is being conducted for that area and results are expected in the next few days. Residents of the town have been warned to expect further evacuations in the coming months “if weather conditions become unfavourable or the weather forecast is for heavy rain.”

Seyðisfjörður Still “On Alert,” Further Evacuations Likely

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.

Seyðisfjörður Mudslides: Municipal Council Discusses Housing For Displaced Residents

Seyðisfjörður landslide almannavarnir

The municipal director of Múlaþing Björn Ingimarsson hopes that new housing can be built for the people who lost their homes in the recent Seyðisfjörður mudslides, Austurfrétt reports. While the municipal council is not authorising reconstruction on plots where buildings were destroyed, for insurance purposes, Múlaþing’s municipal council is working on securing housing quickly for the town’s displaced residents. Some

The council agreed yesterday that reconstruction would not be permitted in the ten plots of land where buildings were destroyed December 18, until a new risk assessment and satisfactory defences against mudslides are finished. Half of the plots in question are allotted for residential buildings and a half for industrial use. The decision means that the Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland will compensate the owners for their loss according to the assessed value for fire insurance.

Even if the damage is monetarily compensated, inhabitants of the destroyed houses are yet to find new homes in town. Also in search of shelter are people living in zones where evacuation orders are still in place and people who haven’t yet mustered up the courage to return home.

The municipal council was adamant at the meeting yesterday that solutions were to be found for this group as quickly as possible, in order to keep the displaced residents in town. “I haven’t heard of many planning to leave but it’s essential that projects like the one created in cooperation with Bríet be extended and constructed as quickly as possible so we can have new residences ready this spring or summer,” stated Hildur Þórisdóttir, municipal council member and former chairperson of the Seyðisfjörður municipal council. Bríet is a project operated by the Housing and Construction Authority, intended to invigorate the housing market outside of the capital area.

Before the mudslides fell, plans for new construction in Seyðisfjörður through the Bríet initiative were already in place. The municipal council director Björn Ingimarsson is hopeful that new construction will be speedy, stating: “I’m optimistic that we can see practical solutions to the housing problems that can be put in use in the first half, or before the middle of this year.” He added that all displaced residents of Seyðisfjörður had found temporary housing through the Múlaþing municipal council. Most had found housing in Seyðisjförður but not all. These temporary housing solutions would be in place through January but they were yet to find time to confirm them for a longer duration.

The Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland will compensate the owners of houses destroyed in the mudslides, but there’s still some uncertainty regarding buildings still standing in risk areas. A government fund buys houses in areas where residence is unsafe and either tears them downs or moves to a safer location, but the price depends on the estimated real estate’s assessment value, which is often lower than its assessed value for fire insurance in this region.

Seyðisfjörður Mudslides: Research Underway to Prevent Further Disasters

Seyðisfjörður landslide almannavarnir

Experts are researching how to prevent further mudslides in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland through better monitoring systems and defence barriers, RÚV reports. Results from a preliminary investigation into mudslide barriers above the town could be available within a few weeks. A series of mudslides following record rainfall destroyed 14 buildings in the town in December, though thankfully no lives were lost.

Located in a narrow fjord in East Iceland, Seyðisfjörður is often lauded as one of Iceland’s most picturesque towns. It is also the first stop for many of Iceland’s visitors as it is where the Norræna ferry, arriving from mainland Europe, docks.

Ongoing Risk of Mudslides

Around 40 Seyðisfjörður residents spent Christmas in an emergency response centre after they were evacuated from their homes the week before the holiday. Fourteen buildings in the town (pop. 659) were destroyed by the mudslides, many of them historic. A notice from Icelandic Police stated the risk of mudslides is ongoing: a state of danger remains in effect, and part of the town remains evacuated. Warmer weather delayed clean-up operations in the town last weekend as it increases this risk, but the weather has since cooled, allowing crews to recommence their efforts at full capacity.

Local and Foreign Experts Collaborate in Research

Authorities have been aware that Seyðisfjörður faces some risk of mudslides for several years. Last summer, engineering company Efla began to evaluate the best possible options for a defence structure on the mountain slope above the southern part of the town. Water pressure gauges were installed in boreholes as well as fixed measuring points in order to monitor the earth’s movement in the slope. The Icelandic Met Office has since added additional equipment to monitor the area.

A Swiss consulting company has been supporting Efla in its research, and the company has also been in contact with Norwegian experts on landslide monitoring. Preliminary results of this research could be available within a few weeks. It is too early to say when construction of defences will begin, but efforts are being made to speed up the investigative process.