Lapland communities brace for 50-year high spring floods
Communities across Lapland are bracing for spring floods which could reach their highest peak for 50 years, with up to 5-meter surges that threaten flooding in Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi, Kiitilä, Tornio and Ivalo. “Spring flood is a normal natural thing, especially in Lapland but this year the problem is record snow, the most for 60 years. Now it is melting really fast” explains Bertel Vehvilainen, a hydrologist at the Finnish Environmental Institute Syke. Flood warnings are in place along the course of the Kemijoki river as authorities try to shore up defences for property and infrastructure. “The current flood and the rising water is very stressing to all people living on the banks of the river” says Rovaniemi Mayor Ulla-Kirsikka Vainio. In Rovaniemi work crews have been protecting city-owned properties, and have already evacuated a healthcare centre as a precaution. They’re also preparing to accommodate and feed local residents who get flooded out of their homes. The peak of the floods is expected to hit on the weekend or at the start of next week.
Cautious response to EU coronavirus recovery plan
The Government has given a guarded response to the new EU coronavirus recovery plan which was announced on Wednesday. Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen says that she anticipated the size of the huge €750 billion fund which is made up partly of grants and partly of loans, although the minister says the share of grants “exceeded our expectations.” Tuppurainen says she’s waiting for more details on how the funds will be allocated and how loan repayments will be made in the future. Finland – and other EU countries – have traditionally resisted taking on collective debt guarantees, and opposition politicians have strongly criticised any notion that Finland would take on debt that helps bail out southern European countries like Italy and Greece that were already heavily indebted to start with before the coronavirus crisis.
Firefighters tackle large Lahti blaze
Firefighters in Lahti are tackling a large blaze in an industrial building on Thursday morning. An alarm call was received around 08:00 to the building on Meisselikatu, southwest of the city. A hazard warning notice has been issued because of the large amount of smoke coming from the fire. The blaze has spread quickly through the building but there is not thought to be anyone inside the premises. Around 20 rescue trucks have responded to the fire with extinguishing and clean-up work expected to last several hours.
Poll: Government party perceptions enhanced during coronavirus
A new poll in Iltalehti newspaper finds that 69% of voters think that Sanna Marin (SDP)’s coalition government has been handling it’s responsibilities well, while 23% disagree. It’s the highest approval rating of any Finnish government since this type of polling began in 1991. While political polls usually measure voting intentions, the new survey asks about the perceptions of the different parties. Within government the Social Democrats have a 54% positive rating, the Greens have a 44% positive rating. Among opposition parties the National Coalition Party has a 42% positive perception and the Finns Party 32% positive rating.
Hanken offering free online courses during coronavirus crisis
The Swedish-language business school Hanken is offering the opportunity to study economics for free even for non-degree students during the coronavirus crisis. The school says that due to the financial impact of the crisis it wants to make some tuition available to everyone, even if they might not otherwise be able to afford to study. There are classes available in both Swedish and English for the summer term and also during the autumn. Anyone can take part, and there are no formal requirements to be able to enroll for the courses. The classes will be taught by Hanken staff.
Thursday morning weather
Overnight rain for some areas gives way to a drier, sunnier Thursday morning throughout the country although there will still be scattered showers in southern coastal areas and in the east. It’s a little cooler in northern Lapland areas at first but temperatures today will reach 14°C to 19°C in central and southern areas; and +8°C to +14°C in the north.