Storm update: Over 18,000 households without power Thursday morning ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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Storm damage in Saaremaa. December 18, 2019.
Storm damage in Saaremaa. December 18, 2019. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

As of Thursday morning, over 18,000 households were still without power following Wednesday's storm, with the highest number of outages in Harju County, Rapla County and Viljandi County, network operator Elektrilevi announced. The Rescue Board is now warning drivers to watch out for downed trees on their way to work.

"A total of 51,000 households lost power due to yesterday's storm, and as of 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, power had been restored to 32,000 clients. And just over 18,000 clients still remain without power," Elektrilevi official Andres Tõnissaar told ERR.

Tõnissaar noted that the highest number of clients currently still without power are in Harju County, followed by Rapla and Viljandi Counties.

As of 11 a.m., the number of clients without power had been reduced to 16,000, after Elektrilevi had restored power to 33,000.

150 establishments of vital or social importance were among those without power, including schools, nursing homes and kindergartens. "We are in close contact with local governments to ensure that information is as current as possible," Tõnissaar said.

According to the official, the priority on Thursday is to restore power to establishments of vital importance and to bigger towns.

"We are communicating with local governments, and in addition to vitally important establishments, we are also inquiring as to whether any bigger public events or similar important things are scheduled to take place in the coming days in the area for which power is critical," he said. "We will try to take this into account when planning the order of repairs."

Once major power lines are repaired and power to critically important establishments is restored, Elektrilevi crews will then move on to smaller power lines and start sending text messages to alert clients as to when they can expect their power to be restored; the company plans to start sending out these text messages on Thursday evening.

Elektrilevi promised that power would be restored to the majority of towns by Thursday night, but added that it may take days to handle every last outage.

"Right now we're seeing new outages that we didn't know about, and people are only just now calling in," he explained. "This storm wasn't as bad as the October one in southeastern Estonia, but nonetheless, based on the current number of outages, I believe it might take days to handle some of these outages."

Clients whose situation is critical due to a lack of power are asked to call 1343.

"We will do everything we can to figure out a solution to serious concerns," Tõnissaar added.

A total of 70 Elektrilevi crews are currently working throughout the country to restore power after Wednesday's storm.

Over 500 calls received

Rescue Board official Meelis Mesi said that the storm started to die down in Estonia between 10-11 p.m. on Wednesday night, after which the number of calls began to taper off. He nonetheless believed that calls would begin to pick up in number again in the morning, as people start to drive to work and come across downed trees in the road.

"The number of calls began to taper off late at night, but a few new calls still came in from each region overnight," Mesi said. "Things were calmer overnight, but we can't say the same regarding yesterday — we received some 500 calls from throughout Estonia, and the workload was pretty big in rescue terms. We suspect that when people start heading to work in the morning, the number of reports of downed trees in the road will begin to pick up again."

According to the Rescue Board's information, two children were injured in connection with a falling tree in Padise, but there have been no further injuries reported. There were several cases across the country where a vehicle was hit by a falling tree or some other wind-driven object, but no people were injured in these cases. The roof of the rescue station in Järvakandi likewise sustained damage in Wednesday's storm.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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