Clean-up effort under way as severe weather batters Slovenia
Ljubljana/Jezersko/Rakek/Dravograd, 12 December - After severe weather with strong wind and torrential rainfall battered Slovenia Monday night, rescue and relief workers were busy cleaning up debris and battling torrential streams on Tuesday while electricians were out trying to restore power to thousands of homes across the country that were left without power due to falling trees.
The situation was worst in western Slovenia, in particular in the mountainous areas in Gorenjska and Notranjska regions, the head of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration Srečko Šestan said.
While major transit roads were cleaned up by midday, dozens of smaller roads around the country remained closed as firefighters and civil protection teams removed fallen tree limbs and debris.
In early afternoon an estimated 30,000 households remained without power, mostly in the rural areas around Ljubljana, Maribor and Celje.
Many buildings remained without roofs, in particular houses in the countryside, but also major residential buildings such as an apartment block in Maribor and a primary school in Cirkulane, north-east.
Rakek, a village about 40 kilometres south-west of Ljubljana, appears to have been hit particularly hard, with roofs stripped off 50 homes by strong wind.
In Bohinj municipality in north-western Slovenia about 70 buildings were left without roofs, according to Bohinj Mayor Franc Kramar.
The wind, which reached speeds of up to 100 km/h during the night, calmed down by midday allowing workers to put tarps on roofs to prevent water damage.
While there have been no reports about casualties so far, a person was reported missing in Koroška region and is believed to have fallen into the swollen Meža river.
In the upper Drava Valley, downstream from the confluence with the Meža, locals were putting up sandbags for fear of the river overstepping its banks.
Several schools and kindergartens were closed and in many schools classes were held even though they did not have electricity.
Rail traffic was also obstructed but workers have removed most of the debris and passenger transport was restored along the main corridors. Nevertheless, many trains are delayed.
The only major track to remain closed for now is the Ljubljana-Kranj section. Domestic and international passengers have been transferred to buses.
The wind also did damage in Slovenian forests, with the areas of Kočevje (NE) and Koroško (N) being hit the hardest. First estimates show that around 500,000 cubic metres of timber has been damaged.
Several forest roads in the affected areas have been closed by the fallen trees, and have been additionally damaged by the heavy rain and landslides, the Forest Service reported.
The Slovenian Red Cross has opened an account to collect donations for the families and individuals affected by the natural disaster.
The weather is forecast to improve in the coming days, although some rivers will continue to swell, including the Sava and the Drava.
The Environment Agency expects the rivers will reach their maximum height by the end of the day, but then flooding will continue until the end of the week.
The weather will remain changeable for a few more days, the consequence of Atlantic weather systems moving across the Mediterranean, before it settles down over the weekend.