What happened

As I wrote in my last night post, power to most Sochi districts was cut off after powerlines went down in severe weather. It was interesting to see that the reports on situation in Sochi in Russian online media were coming in live with various details. I guess we should thank Information Age and Sochi’s Olympic bid for this.

So the timeline goes roughly like this: around 17:00 (5pm) January 30, power goes out, then several times it was briefly restored but just to go out again. By 05:00 January 31, power to some parts of the city was restored, but around 200 000 residents remained w/o power (Sochi population is over 400 000 people). By 14:00 most of the city had power and water. And at 03:20 power was in the city was completely restored.

Krasnaya Polyana was the only part of the city that was not affected, as it has its own hydroelectric power plant.

Source and difficulties in repair were cause by continuing bad weather conditions – heavy wet snow, gusty winds (25-30m/s), drops in temperature (it was around 20 C prior to this in Sochi) – and looters, who managed to cut 1,6 kilometers of copper wire during outage in northern part of the city.

Meanwhile in the city…

Lack of electrical power caused many social infrastructure objects to shutdown. Buildings didn’t have water (even cold water), heat. Schools were shutdown, over 50 000 children didn’t go to schools and kindergartens. Electric trains got stuck on their ways. Inbound trains from other cities were late by several hours. Airport and sea port were also closed, but this was due to weather conditions.

Restoring power and helping out

So, first order of business was to get socially important objects juice up with power.

  • 600 specialists were sent to Sochi to deal with the issue.
  • Additional Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations specialists arrived to Sochi.
  • So called “hospital town” – part of Central district where many hospitals concentrated – has its own autonomous power system for the whole “town” for cases like this, so that was switched on and outage didn’t affect hospitals there.
  • Many other places have autonomous power generators, including hospitals and food production. But not all.
  • Unfortunately because of the low water level in Mzymta River, Krasnaya Polyana’s power plant did not generate enough power to help out Adler.
  • Neighbouring Abkhazia, though, could help Adler and started transmitting power around 18:00 Jan 31st.
  • It turns out Sochi railways have a power generating carriage (!! I’ve never even heard these existed, though I guess it would make sense to have mobile generators on rails), which they used to get power to the train station (probably the one in the Central or the one in Adler districts).
  • And the main source of power in Central district became local thermal power station.

While that was being done, water delivery was organized to parts of the city that remained w/o power, and hot food for hospitals.

New promises

“United Energy Systems of Russia” said that they already working on new, ecology friendly small hydroelectric power plants in Sochi, to make the power systems independent from the main power lines going into the city. Also, during meeting in Krasnodar Krai administration it was stated that in case Sochi 2014 Olympic bid goes through, Krasnaya Polyana’s hydroelectric power plant will get a second energy block to increase power production. This will ensure Olympic venues will have all the energy they need.

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