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'200-year flood' ravages southern Norway

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The flood danger was at the highest level late on Sunday. Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder / NTB scanpix
08:39 CET+01:00
The storm Synne pummeled southern Norway over the weekend, bringing floods and transport woes.
The storm Synne caused a so-called ‘200-year flood’ over the weekend, causing many Norwegians to be evacuated from their homes and affecting road and rail traffic in numerous locations. 
 
In Rogaland, the situation was the most severe in Bjerkreim Municipality, officials said. Here, large amounts of water surging through the Bjerkreim left the town of Vikeså underwater. 
 
“The situation has been serious in several locations in Rogaland, but particularly in the Dalane region. The high water levels have knocked out power and reduced mobile coverage. When the roads have to be closed it becomes very difficult to come out with a mobile power supply,” municipal official Reidar Johnsen said. 
 
Crisis
The municipality has a crisis team on the ground, but working conditions are difficult because large areas of Vikeså are underwater, including the town hall. There are several places with high standing water and several rivers have overflowed. 
 
In the village of Feda in Kvinesdal Municipality, several homes were in danger of being swept away by the floods as of Sunday evening. Many people have been evacuated and several warehouses were lost to the flood. 
 
“Many houses have been excavated to their foundation. It is only a matter of time before the houses are pulled into the river,” local resident Anne Kathrine Lohne told broadcaster NRK. 
 
Closed roads
The E39 motorway was closed on Saturday due to Synne and was expected to be reopened Monday at the earliest. 
 
According to NRK, over 40 secondary roads in Rogaland and Vest-Agder were closed due to flooding. The E134 motorway is also closed over Haukelifjell due to heavy snow and high winds, thus making it nearly impossible to travel by vehicle from the south to the west. 
 
‘Red-level’ warning
The flood danger is a red-level warning, the highest of four levels, in Rogaland and Vest-Agder, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate said on Sunday afternoon. The flood is first expected to recede to ‘orange’, the second-highest level, on Tuesday.
 
In Hordaland and Aust-Agder, the flood danger was ‘orange’ on Sunday and was expected to be dropped down to ‘yellow’ on Monday. A risk of avalanches and landslides in Hordaland and Rogaland remains. 
 
The extreme weather also stopped rail traffic on both the Sørlandet Line between Drammen via Kristiansand to Stavanger and the Jæren Line between Stavanger and Egersund.
 
200-hundred year flood

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The Norwegian Meteorological Institute said late on Sunday that the affected areas could still experience more heavy downpours. 
 
“The level of the 200-year flood was passed long ago and now we have lost touch with the weather stations along the waterways so we really don’t know just how high the water stands,” Eigersund Municipality official Leif Brock told NRK on Sunday. 
 
In Eigersund in Rogaland, over 100 homes in vulnerable areas were evacuated. According to police official Henning Andersen, several people refused to voluntarily vacate their homes. 
 
“We had to order people to evacuate. Then they moved,” he said. 

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