'It felt surreal': Residents rescued from UAE floods recount harrowing experiences

Stranded hail government who set up shelters, helped them get home safe

By Nasreen Abdulla and Ruqayya Alqaydi

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Published: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 9:38 PM

Residents rescued from flooded streets, vehicles and homes in rain-hit emirates have thanked the government, officers and volunteers for ensuring their safety.

Emirati Mariam AlNaqbi, who lives in Khorfakkan, went out with her family, including her 2-year-old child, to Fujairah for a drive during the rain. However, on the way back, they found the road blocked.

"It was chaos everywhere," she said. "So, we turned around to try and take another road, but we soon realized that the water levels were rising and there was imminent danger."

The family drove to a relatively dry spot near a gas station. There they found a school that had been turned into a shelter for flood-affected residents. It was operated by police officials, civil defence and the Red Crescent.

"They provided us with meals and drinks," she said. "There were many others who were in the same situation as us. The shelter was a huge relief for us."

The family spent the night napping in the car. "It wasn't easy," she said. "We were all sore and had backaches. My child kept waking up."

At sunrise, with the help of one of the officers, the family reached home- almost 16 hours after they left it.

"It was a scary experience," she said. "It felt surreal at times. These were situations you would see in a movie. However, I am thankful for all the efforts made by the government, workers and volunteers in dealing with the situation. It was definitely a huge relief."

Kalba resident Nabeel found himself stranded after the roads to the city were completely washed away.

"There was no way I would have been able to make it to my home," he said. "As I stood, unsure what to do, a military truck pulled up and offered me a ride home."

When he clambered in, he realized he wasn't the only person in it. "The truck stopped for everyone who needed help," he said.

Once home, Nabeel had other challenges to deal with.

"The staff of my company did not have a place to stay in after water swept into their quarters," he said. "The first day, I moved them into an outdoor accommodation with tin sheets for the roof. However, the second day it became too hot. So, I went into a police station and asked for help. Within half an hour, everyone was moved into camps. I am really thankful for all the help the government has been providing in the aftermath of the rain."


Seven people died in the torrential showers last week that saw the highest recorded rainfall in the UAE in 27 years. The UAE deployed its army to support rescue efforts, with over 870 people moved to safety in Sharjah and Fujairah. Almost 4,000 people were placed in temporary shelters.

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