Rural Iceland Still Dealing With Power Problems From Last Weeks's Cyclone — The Reykjavik Grapevine

Rural Iceland Still Dealing With Power Problems From Last Weeks’s Cyclone

Published December 16, 2019

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Numerous regions of rural Iceland, especially in the north, are still experiencing difficulties getting electricity to homes in the area in the wake of last week’s cyclone, RÚV reports. The stark contrast between the swift attention shown to the greater Reykjavík area and the problems being experienced by rural communities has prompted President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson to comment on the need for regional equality.

As reported, the North was hit especially hard by the cyclone, as both hurricane-force winds and heavy snowfall led to avalanches, loss of mobile phone coverage, and most importantly a lack of electricity. Losing electrical power is more than an inconvenience for people living in this region; many of these homes are in fact heated by electricity rather than geothermal power.

In the worst case, one life was lost in the region due to the situation—a teenage boy who, while helping a farmer get his homestead connected to electrical power again, was swept into a river.

While power has been mostly restored in the area, Ragnheiður Jóna Ingimarsdóttir, the mayor of Húnaþing Vestra, told RÚV that assurances must be made that such a situation does not happen again.

“We naturally need improvements in the short term and the long term,” she said. “We need backup power at the location, we need to ensure many resources, to see to it that we have electricity and phone coverage and that connections [between communities] are in good shape, that much is certain.”

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson also addressed the matter, saying that there are lessons to be learned from the situation.

“It is the duty of people who are in a position to improve things to listen to people who have had the bitter experience of living through this,” he said. “And I am certain that officials will show in their actions that they want to improve that which needs to be improved. Which is manageable. We also need to realise, although most of us live in the southwestern corner of the country, that conditions can be such across wide swaths of the countryside that we need to devote considerable investment to ensure that people enjoy the same things that we enjoy here [in the greater Reykjavík area]. Heat, electricity, light and warmth in their homes. And we should not be looking at this in terms of cost.”

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