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The floods in South East Iceland did not only upset the vacations of travellers who were left stranded in the affected areas, as they continue to disrupt travel plans of visitors who had planned to travel to East Iceland. ICE-SAR units on duty in the areas in South East Iceland affected by last week‘s flooding have had to turn around large numbers of foreign travellers who are unaware that the Ring Road has been closed between the rivers Steinavöð and Hólmsá.
Travellers unaware of the floods
Elín Freyja Hauksdóttir, the commander of the regional ICE-SAR company, Björgunarfélag Hornafjarðar, told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that some of these travellers were coming from guesthouses and hotels in the immediate vicinity of the flooded areas, but had not received any word that they were heading into areas which had been hit by torrential rains and flooding, or that the Ring Road was closed:
"We have been extremely surprised how many people we have turned away, even travellers who had been staying at guesthouses or hotels here in the area, but are nonetheless completely oblivious as to what they are getting into. I would have assumed guesthouses and hotels would do a better job of informing their guests of what‘s going on and giving them directions and advice."
We at Iceland Magazine would like to urge all travellers in Iceland to keep up-to-date on road and weather condition. Last week‘s floods in South East Iceland remind us that the elements in Iceland can be both unforgiving and unpredictable.
Largest dairy farm in Iceland isolated by the floods
The Ring Road has been closed between Steinavöð river in the west to Hólabrekka farm in the east. The Coast Guard has flown supplies to the 25 farms which were cut off due to the flooding, while 120 foreign travellers who were left stranded were airlifted to safety.
Elín told RÚV that ICE-SAR is currently working to ensure that the rural population in the area has access to basic services. A vetenerian was flown to Flatey á Mýrum, one of the farms affected by the flood. Flatey is the largest dairy farm in Iceland.
Engineers and road crews from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority have been repairing the road, re-opening a road connection to the farms which had been cut off. However, the Ring Road will remain closed for the remainder of the week as the bridge over Stainavöð river was badly damaged by the flood. The IRCA has deemd the bridge dangerously unsafe, closing it to all traffic. A new temporary bridge is being constructed, but will not be completed until Sunday at the earliest. In the meantime the town of Höfn and entire East Iceland can only be reached by the Ring Road from the north.
For a full reporting on the storm and its effects see our previous stories:
Early Wednesday morning the Ring Road in Berufjörður had been closed: Travel alert: Swelling rivers in E. Iceland due to heavy rain. Ring Road re-opened in Berufjörður
Wednesday afternoon ICE-SAR helped rescue sheep in East Iceland: Flock of lambs drowns: ICE-SAR rescues sheep in floods caused by torrential rain in E. Iceland
Later on Wednesday afternoon the Ring Road was closed in Hornafjörður fjord: Travel alert: Ring Road has been closed by Hólmsá river in S.E. Iceland
Wednesday evening it became clear the Ring Road will not be re-opened for a while: UPDATE Travel alert: Ring Road in East Iceland will remain closed due to flooding
Early Thursday morning travellers who spent the night in emergency shelters woke up to make new travel plans as the Ring Road will remain closed for 2-3 days: 60-70 travellers spent night in emergency shelters: Ring Road to remain closed in SE Iceland for 2-3 days due to floods
Thursday noon the IRCA closed the Ring Road at Steinavöð river: Ring Road now closed at second point between Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and town of Höfn
Thursday an uncertainty phase was declared for the areas in South East Iceland worst hit by the floods: Civil Protection Agency has declared Uncertainty Level for S.E. Iceland
Thursday afternoon the Coast Guard flew supplies to farmers cut off by the flood: 20-25 farms cut off due to floods in S.E. Iceland: Ring Road has suffered serious damage
Thursday evening the Coast Guard airlifts stranded travellers to safety: 120 travellers stranded by floods airlifted from S.E. Iceland
Friday ICRA announces the Ring Road will remain closed for at least one week while a new temporary bridge is constructed over Steinavað river: Ring Road in SE Iceland will remain closed until end of next week
Thursdy afternoon and evening the Coast Guard airlifted travellers left trapped by the floods: 120 travellers stranded by floods airlifted from S.E. Iceland
Friday some travellers who were left stranded by the floods and had been forced to leave cars behind were hit with steep penalty fees by the car rentals: Some car rentals using floods as an excuse to charge travellers exorbitant fees
Friday the IRCA announced that repairs to the road and bridges damaged by the flood would not be finished until next weekend: Ring Road in SE Iceland will remain closed until end of next week
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