Norwegian Red Cross mounts biggest-ever domestic response after Storm Hans destruction
By the Climate Centre
Storm Hans this week brought high winds, intense rain and landslides to the Nordic region, downing power lines in Finland, flooding villages in Norway and Sweden, and bringing public transport to a stop in hard-hit areas.
“Never before has the Norwegian Red Cross responded to so many simultaneous local emergencies incidents as right now,” the National Society said in a press release yesterday.*
“So far, almost 400 volunteers from more than 40 branches have been mobilized to respond to Hans,” primarily through a highly trained search and rescue corps.
Local Norwegian media reported that some 2,000 people had been evacuated, especially in the country’s highly populated eastern regions.
‘The Norwegian Red Cross response to this disaster is the largest we have ever implemented in our own country’
“Critical infrastructure, including the country’s main east-west and south-north roads, have been flooded. The emergency is expected to increase in scale as the floodwaters converge on a small number of waterways downstream,” the NRC added.
Anne Bergh, Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross, said yesterday: “The situation is dramatic for many people. Right now, we have mobilized all available volunteers in the flood-affected areas, and we are preparing to maintain our presence in the coming days as well.
“The Norwegian Red Cross response to this disaster is the largest we have ever had to implement in our own country.”
Volunteer support in the worst-affected counties of Viken and Innlandet includes assisting with evacuations and building emergency flood protections.
As rivers and lakes flooded in mountainous regions, Red Cross volunteers were called on to go door-to-door to deliver evacuation notices.
Outside Oslo, two Red Cross branches are providing continuous support with food and other assistance in communities whose vehicle access has been cut off by highly localized flooding (photo).
The Red Cross said yesterday it was preparing to scale up its response, with more areas likely to be affected by “landslides and massive flooding in the hours and days to come”.
Red Cross search and rescue teams along the Drammen and Glomma rivers, where many mountain streams converge, are on stand-by; in Drammen city, 30km south-west of Oslo where the Drammen river drains into a fjord and which is “at risk of significant flooding in the coming days,” volunteers are assisting with anticipatory actions such as filling sandbags.
Reuters news agency reported from Oslo yesterday that some “rivers swelled to their highest levels in at least 50 years, and homes and businesses have been submerged or swept away by landslides.”
*Norwegian Red Cross translation.
Norwegian Red Cross volunteers from several local branches carry food and essential supplies to Asak – a community of 1,000 people close to Oslo cut off by flooding. (Photo: Norwegian Red Cross)