Hundreds of distress calls: UAE's tow truck drivers work non-stop to recover cars from flooded areas

Submerged vehicles on streets and parking areas must be retrieved soon before water damages other components, say recovery specialists


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Wed 17 Apr 2024, 5:36 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 9:56 AM

Hundreds of tow trucks have been operating on the streets of Dubai and Sharjah since Tuesday morning to help motorists recover their vehicles, either submerged in water or broken down due to never-before-seen incessant rains, causing flooding across the UAE.

The UAE witnessed its heaviest rainfall in 75 years from late Monday through Tuesday night, surpassing any recorded precipitation since data collection began in 1949.

The vehicle recovery specialists have tirelessly assisted stranded motorists in navigating waterlogged streets in the Al Nahda, Qusais, and Muhaisinah areas, starting work as early as 5am on April 16.

KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad
KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad

Since Tuesday, Mohammed Haneef has extracted more than 30 vehicles submerged in water. "Our phones have been ringing non-stop since yesterday, and we are working round the clock to help motorists in need. Hundreds of vehicles have been recovered, and even more are yet to be retrieved,” said Haneef.

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

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"When we started, the streets weren't heavily congested," said Haneef. "We received calls from residents in Al Nahda requesting assistance to extract their cars. We removed the vehicles from the water, enabling them to restart their engines." He added that some individuals could drive to their offices while other cars were taken to the garage for further assessment and repairs.

Khaleej Times spoke to many vehicle recovery specialists operating in Al Nahda, Qusais, Muhaisinah, and several neighbourhoods of Sharjah. On average, each recovery specialist managed to extract nearly 25 cars from the water on Tuesday.

Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

“Some motorists panicked and rushed to get their vehicles out of the water. But others are waiting for the water level to subside,” said Basharul, a recovery expert in Sharjah, who got out nearly 20 vehicles on April 16.

“It's been a hectic day for us. We are working without a break to help as many people as possible,” said Basharul.

According to these service providers, hundreds of vehicles on streets and parking areas must be retrieved soon before water damages other components of the cars. However, car owners with water levels that reach just the tyres need not worry. But cars submerged in water above the tyre levels need to be recovered soon,” said Basharul.

Shahrez Khan, another recovery specialist, shared that he received more than 300 calls on Tuesday alone. He adopted a strategy to prioritise extracting vehicles from waterlogged areas. “The moment I received a call from a motorist, I requested that they send a photos. By assessing factors such as the water level, car make, location (whether stranded in a parking lot or on the road), and the feasibility of extraction, I decided whether to proceed with the recovery,” said Khan.

KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad
KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad

Waiting for the water level to subside

On Wednesday, as the water level started receding in many neighbourhoods, numerous car owners were cautious and waiting for the right moment to remove their vehicles safely.

Abdul Rahman, a resident of Al Nahda, recounted the harrowing experience when his car stopped in the middle of Ittihad Road as he attempted to navigate the waterlogged street.

“At around 5 pm, my vehicle stopped in the middle of the road. I managed to park it on the side and exit the vehicle,” said Abdul Rahman. “I couldn't get a recovery specialist until 9pm. Eventually, the vehicle was extracted and brought to safety near my home,” he added.

Photo: SM Ayaz
Photo: SM Ayaz

Abdul Rahman is not certain about the extent of damage his car has incurred. “I am unsure about the damage my car has sustained. I'll have a better understanding once a mechanic conducts a diagnosis," he said.

‘No place to park vehicles in our garage’

Garages are working to full capacity and are overwhelmed with damaged vehicles to the extent that they cannot accommodate more. The recent heavy rainfall has led to a surge in water-related damage to cars, resulting in an influx of vehicles requiring repair and restoration.

Hamza Sharif, an automotive specialist at Malik Al Faraz Auto Repair in Al Mamzar has been inundated with calls from distressed car owners seeking assistance. “The excessive water can cause various issues in vehicles, from damaging electrical components to compromising engine performance,” said Hamza.

“Vehicles submerged in water are especially susceptible, as water seepage can cause corrosion and potential engine complications. It is crucial for every car to undergo a thorough assessment post-recovery, with the most common damages typically found in the electrical system, transmission, and engine,” said Hamza.

“Refrain from starting the engine if the vehicle is submerged in water and call for recovery assistance immediately,” said Hamza, adding that swift action can protect vehicles from further damage.


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