EU storm bonanza for Sweden

Sweden has been granted 81.7 million euros, or just over 760 million kronor, in aid relief for damages caused by the storm Gudrun in January this year. The money will be paid out from the EU’s Solidarity Fund. It is more than the government had hoped for.

“I am very satisfied. It’s more than what we had counted on,” said Infrastructure Minister, Ulrica Messing.

“It’s a testimony that we have done a thorough job in our damage cost evaluation and confirms that we have a system in place within the EU where we help each other in need.”

Gudrun struck southern Sweden on January 8th this year and caused an estimated 2.3 billion euros’ worth of damages. It was classed by the EU as a “significant natural catastrophe” for Sweden’s economy.

Southern Småland, Halland and Blekinge were hardest hit. Some homes were without electricity and telephone lines for over a month as vast tracts of commercial forest were uprooted.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were also affected by the storm and granted money from the EU Solidarity Fund along with Sweden.

Now the question is how the 768 million kronor will be spent.

“It will go to the areas that have the greatest need following the storm. There are many roads which must be repaired after the clean up,” said Ulrica Messing.

The Swedish Road Administration (SRA) estimates that the repairs of the roads in southern Sweden alone has cost upwards of 600m SEK. Maintenance of other roads in Sweden has suffered as a result.

“Hopefully we can recover some of the money so that we can both cover the cost of the repairs as well as properly maintain the rest of the road network, for example in northern Sweden,” said Lena Eriksson, financial director at the SRA.

The government has also promised aid relief to forestry enterprises thrust into financial hardship as a result of the storm.

However, EU money from the solidarity fund will not be distributed to individual owners of forests, Ulrica Messing assured Swedish Radio.