16,000 still without power on Monday evening

Storm damage in Võru.
Storm damage in Võru. Source: Heini Heinlaid/ERR

Close to 16,000 electricity customers in Estonia were still without power late on Monday, following Sunday's storms, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

The most heavily affected areas were South Estonia, and also parts of western Estonia, particularly Saaremaa and Pärnu County.

The largest number of customers still without electricity on Monday night were in Võru and Põlva Counties in southeastern Estonia, and Viljandi County in south-central Estonia.

Over 60,000 electricity customers were without power across the country in the immediate aftermath of the storms, which hit late afternoon on Sunday, though this figure had nearly halved by Monday morning. The entire town of Võru was without power for several hours on Sunday.

"During the night [of Oct. 27.-28 - ed.), we have re-established contact with many customers, mainly by locating power supply options. Now during daylight, we will certainly get a better picture of the losses," said Jüri Klaassen, head of the control center at grid distribution company Elektrilevi.

Work brigades were assembled Monday morning to tackle the mass outages, and personnel were sent from relatively unaffected northern Estonia as reinforcements.

"The best situation now is in Saaremaa, where we can restore the electricity supply to all consumption points today [i.e. Monday-ed.], and most customers in Pärnu County should be able to recover electricity today. The critical areas are Viljandi, Valga, Võru, Tartu and Põlva Counties, he added, noting that customers without power numbered in the thousands in each of these areas.

Power outages have also disrupted the mobile network operated by service provider Elisa; the company has opted for temporary generators in affected hubs, ERR reports, and even where coverage is available, it is often weaker and more prone to interruption than normal service.

Elisa notes that 112, the emergency number, can be reached by removing the phone's SIM card if coverage is not available with the network.

Situation worst in rural areas

How much damage the storm caused is still being calculated; in Võru, for instance, the clear-up operation began on Monday morning. Three schools in Rõuge rural municipality were closed Monday.

A report on current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera noted that outside of towns, the situation was much worse.

Focusing on rural Võru County, not much seemed to have improved by Monday evening, the report said, with many schools likely remaining closed.

ERR's South Estonia correspondent Ragnar Kond said authorities in the border town of Valga have been struggling to organize education while still being in the dark, quite literally, about when power will be restored. In fact the latter issue, problems with coordination and information between electricity suppliers and their customers, has been the biggest challenge, Kond said.

Other disruption includes an estimated €50,000 in losses by dairy company Valio, and a Võru Maksimarket supermarket threw out 25 cubic meters of spoiled food.

The report noted that since electricity resotration may still be several days off for those in more remote areas, winter food and fuel stocks may already get depleted.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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