Dubai gets year’s worth of rains in a day; authorities working ‘non-stop’ to drain flooded areas

Thousands of personnel deployed to clear accumulated water, clogged drains, and fallen trees


Sahim Salim

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Published: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 4:12 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 11:00 PM

Unprecedented rains in Dubai peaked at over 220mm in less than 24 hours, officials said Friday. That’s significantly more than a year’s worth of rains in the space of single day. It took more time to drain and channel the water through sewage and rainwater drainage networks, the Dubai Municipality chief said.

Dawoud Al Hajri, director-general of the civic body, said teams have been operating “non-stop”. Record-breaking rains resulted in water accumulation, drainage blockages, and increased waste.

The authority mobilised over 2,425 engineers, technicians, and workers. “Operating around the clock and covering all regions, these teams are equipped to swiftly address emergencies resulting from impact of rains, including water accumulation, clogged drains, and fallen trees.”

According to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), the rains that pounded the Emirates this week were the heaviest in 75 years. Referring to the record-breaking weather event as “exceptional” and “historic”, the NCM said one station in Al Ain recorded 254mm of rainfall. At least four stations recorded in excess of 200mm of rainfall. In contrast, the UAE records average rainfall of 100mm per year.

Authorities in Dubai have revealed the sheer scale of efforts to restore normalcy. Teams from various government entities in the emirate continue to work around the clock to ensure the full restoration of services and smooth traffic flow on roads.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) deployed over 2,500 response personnel, including engineers, technicians, workers, contractors, and suppliers. It mobilised 400 pumps, 300 tanks, and over 200 trucks and bulldozers.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general of the RTA, said the teams initially focussed on restoring the Dubai Metro services. “The metro, being the backbone of resident movement in the emirate, saw stations reopening gradually, with all stations operational by the second day of the weather event. Efforts also included addressing rainwater accumulations on various streets, particularly focusing on major arteries such as Sheikh Zayed Road, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road, and Airport Road. Water was removed from various streets in a record time, allowing traffic to return to normal.”

Dawoud Al Hajri from the Dubai Municipality among the officials the authority deployed were 161 rescuers. These field emergency teams were equipped with “141 water pumps, 130 tanks, and 85 machines and light vehicles”.

The Dubai airport needed 22 tankers with vacuum pumps to get water off its grounds, according to a report on AP.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths “acknowledged that taxiways flooded during the rains, though the airport’s runways remained free of water to safely operate”.

Videos showing flights landing on a flooded runway went viral on social media. “It looks dramatic, but it actually isn’t that dramatic,” AP quoted Griffiths as saying.

Around 1,244 flights were cancelled in Dubai in the first two days after the rains. In a statement on Friday, the airport’s operator said it is temporarily limiting the number of inbound flights from 12pm on April 19 for 48 hours. Departures will continue to operate.


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