The deluge began on Saturday evening following a day of muggy, hot temperatures. And when all was said and done, some 150 millimetres of rain had fallen on Copenhagen in less than three hours. It was as much rain as the area normally gets in two months. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) recorded 18,602 lightning strikes.
Central Copenhagen was hardest hit. In nearby Roskilde, where the annual Roskilde Festival was in full swing, they were lucky. There, just 50 millimetres fell.
The tracks at Copenhagen’s main train station, Hovedbanegården, were under water and Tivoli Amusement Park had to be evacuated.
“There is just one word to describe it, and that is ‘chaos’,” said public broadcaster DR reporter Preben Lund from Hellerup Station on Saturday. Lund described exit tunnels filled with rain and sewage water and commuters running across the train tracks to avoid using them.
On Sunday morning, residents and shopkeepers throughout the city were still bailing and pumping out flooded basements, mopping muddy floors and hauling waterlogged furniture, books and clothes to bins.
Mud lines centimetres up building walls and piles of drowned rats, washed out of overflowing basements and sewage pipes, were a common sight many places around the city.
“There are thousands of dead rats,” Klaus Palskov, owner of the sewage service company ABC Kloak og Ejendomsservice told Politiken newspaper.
Palskov’s company was busy throughout the weekend pumping water out of flooded basements at both residences and businesses. Insurance companies and clean up services also reported heavy call volumes, with waits to get through lasting for upwards of 30 minutes.
Business was also brisk at the region’s home centres, where dehumidifiers and shop-vacs were long gone by Sunday afternoon, and mops and buckets were on many customers’ lists.
“Jutland. Try, Jutland,” attendants at the Silvan home centre in Birkerød repeatedly told customers looking for dehumidifiers on Sunday. Most had turned up looking for ways to dry out their soggy basements after learning that it could take over a week for clean up services to work through their backlogs.
After a few hours of drying sunshine on Sunday afternoon, the rain began again – though luckily not as violently.
On Monday morning the chaos continued, as soggy commuters struggled to get to jobs in the city. Train and bus service was delayed in all directions due to downed switching signals, muddy tracks and washed out roads. Some roads – like parts of Amager Motorway on the city’s southeast side – were still under water.
After being paralysed on Sunday, train service had come back online after makeshift repairs to washouts, including one near Nordhavn Station that halted traffic on the Kystbanen commuter line. Service, however, remained spotty and train operator DSB said it expects disruptions will continue for the next few days.
Adding to the problems, many traffic lights were still out of service after the storms.
Beyond the inconvenience of traffic delays and train cues, Copenhagen’s deputy assistant police commissioner Henrik Møller Jakobsen told Politiken that there were continued dangers due to the massive flooding.
“It’s important to be aware that manhole covers have been washed away and there are big holes in the roads now because of the water,” Jakobsen said.