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Many households in Southeastern Estonia without power for over a week

Heavy snowfall has brought power outages of many days' length to residents in and around Karula National Park, Valga and Võru counties.
Heavy snowfall has brought power outages of many days' length to residents in and around Karula National Park, Valga and Võru counties. Source: Google Maps

Large numbers of households in Southeastern Estonia have been without power for well over a week now after heavy snowfall brought down trees and power lines, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday.

Grid distributor Elektrilevi says it is doing all it can to avoid situations like this in the future.

The affected households are reportedly in Valga and Võru counties, in Southeastern Estonia, inside the Karula National Park (Karula Rahvuspark), around 10km from the Latvian border.

Tarvo Arumäe, a resident of Koobassaare village, Valga County, told AK That:

"We have only had for power one day out of 12 day. That day the power came back, I checked the weather forecast and could see that [the power] was going to go off again soon, so I quickly did several washing machine-loads of laundry, and the dishes, as I have three small children: One is in school, and two are kindergartners."

The problems did not impact seriously on humans alone.

Liilia Tali, a sheep farmer in Rebasemõisa, also in Valga County, said she was concerned about her near-500 head of sheep, who were having to be taken out of their barn periodically to munch on the snow, in order to get their required fluids.

Normally their drinking water would be pumped in, an action which requires electricity, including to stop pipes freezing.

Tali said: "The main thing is certainly that the animals can get to drink. Right now, we are trying to get our automatic water dispensers working. These normally deploy heating cables, which keep the water dispensers open very well, even in winter."

"But right now in these turbulent times, the [electric] current has sometimes been there and sometimes not; there was one stage where it was out and then ultimately it failed completely," she went on, adding that this had caused the water dispensing equipment to freeze over at one point last week.

The Karula National Park, which straddles the Võru-Valga county lines, has seen heavy snow bring down trees on to highways; this has brought electric cables down with it, hence the lengthy outages.

Location of the Karula National Park. Source: Google Maps

One of the first people to have drawn attention to the situation was noted folk singer and musician Meelika Hainsoo, who is a neighbor of Liilia Tali.

Hainsoo noted that while her village still had power, this made it an "oasis of light in the midst of darkness."

"Around here, some households have been without power for nearly 10 days," she Hainsoo wrote on her social media account Monday.

"Yet not a single word on that has appeared in the media. We have families with small children, stables with livestock, the local market…"

In my opinion, it gives the measure of the special situation. What is it because people live here in Valga and Võru County as well.
This also implies different treatment being doled out to the regions and in particular more rural areas, than to more populated areas.

"In my view, this shows the nature of this emergency situation. There are people living here in Valga and Võru counties, too," Hainsoo went on.

AK reported that many households had acquired small electricity generators, in many cases in anticipation of a situation like this. This access to power allows them to charge their phones and to obtain weather forecasts among other things.

Grid distributor Elektrilevi itself said that it would be drawing lessons from the current saga and do what it can to ensure that households in the Karula park area have a better supply of electricity, even in tough weather conditions, in the future.

Elektrilevi board chair Mihkel Härm said: "We will pledge to review what the causes were. With reference to Southeastern Estonia, we have three million euros in investment fund, plus an additional €800,000 to maintain the electricity line corridors," referring to lanes cut into the forest along which pylons and cables often run.

The original AK slot is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Leevi Lillemäe

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