TALLINN - In addition to local governments, the central government of Estonia, too, should be involved in making sure that the country's large western islands have the necessary supply in the event of a major crisis, according to Estonian President Alar Karis.
"Many people are struggling due to the storm, thousands of families are without electricity and heating, trapped in the snow. I spoke over the phone with Saare municipality elder Mikk Tuisk and director general of the Rescue Board Kuno Tammearu. Saaremaa has been the first one hit by winter this year while the rest of Estonia is still assessing the consequences of snow and wind. Yesterday, today and probably tomorrow and the day after demonstrate how important it is to prepare for crises," Karis wrote on social media.
"For example, in Saaremaa there is a shortage of generators that should be given to people in settlements where there is no power. It is no surprise after all that there are islands in Estonia and that there are people living on these islands. Perhaps it is time that in addition to local governments, the central government, too, should take interest in ensuring that the islands have the necessary supplies, particularly in the event of major crises," he went on.
The president said that our climate conditions warrant expanding the corridors for overhead power lines and establishing underground network links and that these options have been discussed repeatedly.
"Why these issues have only been discussed is something I do not understand in the light of the 2022 year-end power outages. What I understand very well is that the brigades of [electricity distribution network operator] Elektrilevi, rescuers, road maintenance workers, local government officials, medical professionals and police officers -- thousands of people -- are doing an excellent job right now," he said.
The head of state also reiterated some simple recommendations on how everyone can ensure their safety by staying at home, working remotely if possible, being ready for power outages, reviewing their supplies, including drinking water, at home, not entering traffic unless it is necessary and staying in contact with their relatives and friends living alone.
Instructions for various crisis situations are available on the website olevalmis.ee and the mobile app "Ole valmis!" ("Be prepared!"). The latter resource can also be used without internet connection. Power outages can be reported via the Maru app available at https://www.elektrilevi.ee/maru. The app also provides information about when the failures are expected to be eliminated.