By Daniela Baragan
Recent snowfalls and blizzard continue to take their toll. Representatives of the Interior Ministry announced yesterday that 142 villages, over 40 of them in counties Buzau and Vrancea, were still cut off from the world. In fact, 22 counties are still affected by the snowfalls and 15 villages in five counties have been left without electricity. Some progress has been as far as county roads are concerned insofar as only 84 such roads remained blocked yesterday, compared to 136 on Wednesday afternoon. At the same time, 197 passengers’ trains were cancelled and five railways were closed down, for snow-removal operations.
Furthermore, restrictions are in place on seven railways and electric locomotives were replaced with diesel engines.
On the other hand, road traffic is gradually reverting to normal. Thus, only four national roads in the Western half (e.n. in counties where the snowfall watch is in place) were closed yesterday morning, while the access of heavy vehicles was barred on 17 road segments. According to representatives of the Romanian National Roads and Highways Company (CNADNR), traffic was resumed on all national roads in Southern and South-Eastern counties.
As it was virtually impossible to gain access to some of the villages affected by the snowfalls even two days after the snowfall stopped, their rescuers had to come by air. Thus, helicopters of the Interior Ministry’s Aviation General Inspectorate conducted nine air missions in nine villages in counties Calarasi, Buzau, Bacau, Ialomita, Prahova, Vrancea and Tulcea, transporting ten patients.
Only 897 schools, with a total number of 91,305 students, remained closed yesterday, owing to weather conditions. According to the Education Ministry, no classes were held yesterday, for the fourth consecutive day, in any of the schools in Vrancea County, while in 15 other counties classes were suspended only in some schools.
Households in the Petricani Avenue area, in Bucharest’s District 2, were affected on Wednesday by a power cut brought about by the high energy consumption. Angry people staged a spontaneous protest, blocking the road for over two hours. The people claim that such power cuts have become very frequent lately and they are left to freeze in their homes even if they have paid their bills. Two teams of gendarmes were dispatched to the scene to try to solve the problem and allow traffic to be resumed, after someone called 112, but negotiations between the protesters and gendarmes were not very successful. The people ended the protest only after the power came back on, but threaten they will take to the street again if the problem recurs. “This damages our central heating system, our radiators burst out and no one is paying the damages,” one of the protesters stated. Enel representatives blame the power cuts on the high electricity consumption, which soared in the past days.
Transelectrica (TEL) director-general Octavian Lohan stated that the average electricity consumption reached in February the highest level in the past ten years. “February saw several record figures. On February 3, the maximum daily consumption amounted to 8,466 MWh, considerably above the average maximum for the past years. Average consumption in February 2011 amounted to 7,749 MWh, as opposed to 8,106 MWh in the first fortnight of February 2012,” Lohan stated.
Low risk of flooding before March 1
As regards the risk of floods occurring once temperatures rise and the snow begins to melt, the authorities continue to claim there is little likelihood this should happen in the near future. “It is unlikely floods should occur by March 1 as daytime temperatures will not rise above 10 degrees in the next two weeks and there is no forecast of rain,” the director of the National Meteorology Administration (ANM), Ion Sandu, stated yesterday.