– That’s enough now. We can’t wait for people to die, says Marte Kufaas, head of the Beisfjord district committee and local emergency group.
He is very tired of the lack of avalanche protection after the village has been hit by two avalanches in ten days.
Beisfjord has over 800 inhabitants and is located in the municipality of Narvik in Nordland.
On Sunday, January 16, the first landslide occurred that separated the village. After a few days, the road was opened, but on Friday, January 21, there was a new and bigger landslide.
The last landslide is 300 meters wide and triggered at an altitude of 900-1000 meters. It crossed the Beisfjord’s only outlet and entrance channel and also took power in the village.
– Thanks to our crazy work, local forces and the Hålogaland network with people inside, we got the power back in record time, says Kufaas.
If communities couldn’t fix their own electricity, Telenor’s mobile network would be gone. You cannot do more than four hours without electricity.
– It would have been a disaster, emphasizes Kufaas.
Those who live in the village cannot go to work, middle school and high school students cannot go to school, and several houses have been evacuated. On Wednesday afternoon, the Nordland police announced on Twitter that the evacuees could move home as early as the evening of the same day.
The road was reopened in the afternoon of the same day.
– Insane devastation
It wasn’t until Wednesday that the weather was good enough for geologists to make the journey up the mountain to check the conditions for the opening of a dangerous road dependent on the Beisfjording mountain range.
– We are talking about an insane amount of devastation. We hope for a quick solution, but it’s a shame that residents have to deal with this uncertainty, says Rolf Lossius, Narvik municipality’s emergency coordinator.
According to Lossius, you have to go back to 1955 to find an event of the same magnitude in Narvik.
– I can’t think of the last time so many rescue teams had to believe.
In addition to the work of removing the avalanche and securing the area, work is also being done to deliver food, goods and people to and from the village by boat.
But even that creates problems.
The Norwegian Defense Forces have deployed a battle boat to get people and goods to the village, but in recent days the ice has been so thick that the boat has difficulty getting in.
– We have worked for a long time to get an emergency berth for the village. As of now, due to the ice, we are forced to crawl over rocks to get to the boat, says Kufaas.
According to the local emergency manager, the boat only has a few hours to reach the village, because in addition to the darkness, the tide has also affected the ice.
Lossius says the municipality is working with Nordland County Council to find more solutions to keep residents safe.
– We are trying to establish an emergency pier, as well as more permanent avalanche protection solutions, says Lossius.
But Kufaas doesn’t believe the village is racially protected until he actually sees it.
– We have sought racial protection since its invention. But as long as the road is open, we are completely forgotten until another race comes.
“I’m so tired you have no idea,” Kufaas says.
During last Friday’s collapse, it was close before people were caught. The train driver of the truck was less than 100 meters away from being caught in the avalanche.
– This time a few seconds passed before the life was taken. What do they do on a day when a school bus with 50 students drives by, Kufaas asks.
NVE regional manager Knut Ivar Aune Hoseth says that during his 30 years at NVE, he has experienced several landslides on the section leading to Beisfjord.
– There has been a bigger landslide this year and there has also been a landslide in the second avalanche run. That is why we have recommended the evacuation of several people this time, says Aune Hoseth.
In recent weeks, there has been a significant avalanche danger throughout northern Norway, and several landslides have occurred in the country. The head of NVE says that the unstable weather that has lasted so far both this winter and the following years means that more landslides like the Beisfjord should be expected in the future.