Water up to neck, stuck in damp clothes for over 15 hours: UAE residents on how they braved torrential rain to rescue others

At one point, there were over 200 people stranded in and around a petrol station



File photo.
File photo.
by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Thu 28 Jul 2022, 3:38 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Jul 2022, 4:28 PM

As rain battered Fujairah and flooded homes and streets, some unsung heroes sprang into action to help stranded citizens and residents. Over 30 members of the UAE rescue team, a volunteer group that participates and helps authorities with rescue operations, have been working in Fujairah for over 24 hours.

“Our job was to give whatever support we could to the Fujairah police and civil defense,” said Faisal Muslim, head of the RAK operations of UAE Rescue Team. “We helped remove vehicles, rescue people and transport stranded residents to safe places.”

For him, this was not a novel experience. “We have conducted rescue operations in various other places including Sharjah, Al Ain and the Jebel Jais area. In fact, a few years ago, we had participated in rescue operations in the same area in Fujairah.”

Faisal Muslim
Faisal Muslim

For Faisal, the most difficult part of yesterday was the helplessness he felt when water levels rose sharply. “There were some families who were in their cars when they got swept away,” he said.

“It is hard to stand back and watch because you can’t do anything until the water comes down. We called these families on the phone and instructed them how to navigate and stay calm until we could get them.”

He shared a video shot during a rescue mission.

Another volunteer with the rescue team, Khaleel Babu said that many routes had been blocked for residents’ safety. “A lot of roads have experienced severe damage,” he said. “There are many potholes which are not visible because of water. Several vehicles including cars and trucks have been swept away. I hope residents will stay home and listen to the authorities."

Meanwhile other residents have spoken about how they braved adverse weather conditions to help others.

Kalba resident and social worker Muhammed Nabeel was at home when a colleague who was stuck in Fujairah called him at around 7pm on Wednesday. After driving his friend to safety, Nabeel came back to find the cars in front of his vehicle stranded and him unable to move. “I waded through the water and reached a nearby petrol station and waited there,” he said.

Muhammed Nabeel
Muhammed Nabeel

Delivery agent Nooruddeen was in Khorfakkan to drop off a package when he was caught in the floods. “My van just died,” he said. “I took refuge in the petrol station where I met Nabeel. We took turns to go to the car and sleep. I think I may have slept for an hour. It was difficult to sleep in damp clothes.”

At that point there were over 200 people in and around the gas station after being stranded.

At 2am, the men were notified of two women who were stuck close by. They jumped into action. “It is about 3kms away,” said Nabeel. “Usually, it is just a 10-minute walk, but it took us more than an hour to reach them, and the water was up to my neck,” he said.

Nooruddeen
Nooruddeen

The women were nurses returning from their late-night shift at a Fujairah hospital.

“Due to the heavy rain, they were unable to find a taxi,” said Noorudden. “They had been dropped off by a passerby to what was a spot when the water levels began to rise dangerously. They had tried to walk home but they slipped and fell and injured themselves. Fortunately, we were able to rescue and drop them off to their house.”

The men then returned to the petrol station and continued waiting for help. “We were hungry, but all the shops had been flooded and there was nothing available for us to eat,” said Nabeel.

At dawn, a military truck arrived and transported families to safety. The men continued to wait. “The water had started to recede at this point,” said Nooruddin. “However, my truck is dead. I have to wait for a recovery vehicle to retrieve it.”

Meanwhile Nabeel rushed back to his house in Kalba only to find that the roads were completely submerged. He was transported by a military truck to his house.

“All my important documents are at home,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times while atop the military truck. “Water has swept into my house. I am just praying that everything is safe.”

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