Helping people cross floods, sheltering cats: How UAE volunteers stepped up during rains

Using his bicycle, Jamaluddin offered to ferry individuals from one side of the flooded underpass to the other, ensuring they could cross without getting wet


SM Ayaz Zakir

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KT Photos: Muhammad Sajjad
KT Photos: Muhammad Sajjad

Published: Thu 2 May 2024, 6:01 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 May 2024, 10:42 PM

When rainfall inundated a few roads and a pedestrian underpass in Sharjah on May 2, many commuters found themselves stranded, unable to cross the waterlogged roads and subways. Among them was Jamaluddin, a Bangladeshi expat who witnessed the plight of pedestrians attempting to navigate the submerged underpass.

“Al Wahda Street is always busy in the mornings, and the subway is a crucial passage for pedestrians. However, it was submerged and posed a challenge for people trying to pass through it,” said Jamaluddin.

Inspired to reduce the difficulties faced by pedestrians, Jamaluddin devised a solution. Using his bicycle, he offered to ferry individuals from one side of the underpass to the other, ensuring they could cross without getting wet.

Watch the video below:

“As I cycled through the submerged subway, I realised how easily I could navigate with my bicycle. That's when I decided to lend a hand to others, helping them cross without soaking their clothes," said Jamaluddin.

Similarly, many residents offered a helping hand when people faced difficulty during the rain.

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One among many was Aslam Sheikh, an Indian expat, who helped a family push their shopping cart through waterlogged streets.

“I was shopping for my daily essentials at a supermarket in Sharjah. While exiting the supermarket, I saw a family struggle a bit to cross a water-logged road. I offered them to take their cart to their car, as my car was also parked at the same spot,” said Aslam.

“This sense of helping people in need is seen a lot in the UAE. Last time, when it rained, I read and watched videos on how people were helping each other. So I am happy I could help someone,” said Aslam.

Another resident who has dedicated herself to helping the less fortunate inhabitants of the streets – the cats, is Jlory. “For personal reasons, I had to keep my cat elsewhere. So, I built a small, makeshift shelter for them in a private parking area,” said Jlory.

Despite the weather's challenges, she walks around the neighbourhood with her umbrella protecting her from rain, rescuing cats, and bringing them to safety. Currently, she has accommodated three cats at the makeshift shelter. Along with providing shelter, and ensuring that they are provided with food and water.

“I bring milk water and cat food for them to eat. I check on them periodically and when the weather returns to normal, they will be released,” said Jlory.

Volunteers gear up to give aid

As the weather forecast predicted rainfall, many volunteer and social organisations across the country sprang up into action, preparing and planning aid missions. They wasted no time in mobilizing their efforts and making necessary preparations to assist those who might be in need. Many of these groups had already packed raw food materials into boxes, ready to be distributed to people in case of flooding.

“We all remember the damage caused by the previous rainfall, leaving many without access to food and water. We were fully prepared to offer assistance if a similar situation occurred,” said Hameed Yasin, general secretary of the Iman Cultural Center.

“We had already packed over 500 food kits to distribute to people in need if the situation escalated. Fortunately, everything is under control for now,” added Yasin.

Shahid, who had been actively volunteering since it rained last time on April 16, he was ready and prepared to assist people stranded in Sharjah if the situation worsens. “Our team is well equipped and ready and all our SUVs were mobilised and ready to evacuate individuals in case the situation escalated beyond control,” said Shahid.

“When it rained last time, over 15 SUVs belonging to our friends and family were deployed in our efforts to aid people,” said Shahid. “As we were discussing rescue operations for the rain on May 2, many extended family members and other friends reached out, expressing their eagerness to join us in our mission,” said Shahid.


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