UAE floods: Sewage-contaminated waters add to the stress of some Sharjah residents

Many areas are now accessible only by boats, with volunteers using kayaks to deliver essential supplies to people trapped in buildings due to accumulated waters

by

Mazhar Farooqui

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 1:51 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 9:37 PM

Large parts of Sharjah are still grappling with flooded buildings and streets, and now residents are gripped with health concerns from stagnant water after Tuesday's (April 16) torrential rains.

Residents navigate roads using makeshift boats and rafts as these waters are contaminated with sewage, emitting a foul odour that compounds the distress of thousands trapped in their homes.


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Volunteers have displayed remarkable resilience in the past three days, using kayaks, inflatable boats, and rafts to deliver essential supplies such as food, water, and medicine to those in need. Despite ongoing efforts to pump out the floodwaters, progress is sluggish.


Mohammad Essam from Egypt, a resident of Al Wahda Street, paints a harsh picture of his family's plight on the 9th floor. Stranded with no power and dwindling resources, including a failing power bank, the prospect of communication hangs by a thread. "My wife, small children, and visiting parents are trapped, and soon we'll be completely cut off," he said.

Zainab Nizar, 18, recounts a similar ordeal faced by her family on the fourth floor of their apartment in Al Majaz 2, near Jamal Abdul Naseer Street. For three agonising days, the Indian expats struggled with the challenges until they decided to wade through waist-deep, foul-smelling water to seek refuge at an aunt's house. "Getting out was not easy, especially with three young siblings in tow," she said.

Zainab Nizar
Zainab Nizar

Nivedita, 17, who lives near Majaz Park with her parents, said the building management had asked them to use the water judiciously as it might run out soon. "It's a precarious situation," she said.

Residents of Abu Shagara reached out to Khaleej Times for support and requested authorities to help with the foul smell and accumulated water, which has trapped families.

Divya Geetha expressed her concern, "The smell is very unpleasant, and the water has turned green, appearing dangerously contaminated. We now worry about potential health issues from this polluted water."

Abu Shagara
Abu Shagara

Mohammad Ubaid, 55, a father of two residing on the 21st floor of Maitha 2 Tower in Al Qassimya, said the non-functioning elevators leave him stranded despite having electricity and water.

Mohammad Ubaid with his family
Mohammad Ubaid with his family

"I am unable to descend the stairs due to my recent heart surgery." Ubaid expressed gratitude for the assistance during this challenging time, adding, "Thankfully, volunteers and relief workers provided some much-needed food supplies on Saturday, which my son managed to collect."

A volunteer from the RainSupport WhatsApp group mentioned delivering six inflatable boats along with other aid to relief workers last night. "Providing food is essential, but reaching communities accessible only by boats posed a challenge, so we purchased some and packed them with other aid," he explained."

Earlier, Sharjah Municipality announced its efforts to alleviate the impact of heavy rainfall, deploying 65 community service patrols to affected areas. The authority employed all available resources, including its vehicle fleet, to minimise damage and ensure resident safety.

Obaid Saeed Al Tunaiji, Director-General of Sharjah Municipality, declared a state of emergency to manage the situation effectively, Wam reported. He emphasised proactive measures, such as deploying field teams and patrols to aid affected families and stranded individuals, clearing obstructed vehicles, and supporting vulnerable groups within the community.

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