UAE floods: Volunteers power through little sleep, broken down vehicles to help affected

'People are safe. That is what matters to us,' says rescue group founder



by

Sahim Salim

/

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 4:05 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 9:37 PM

Rescue officials from multiple entities and volunteers are powering on around the clock to help residents hit by the record-breaking rainfall and flash floods. The UAE’s eastern areas were battered by torrential rains that claimed seven lives, damaged roads and other infrastructure and caused massive property losses.

Even with several of their vehicles broken down and not getting more than a few hours of sleep, volunteers are still on the flooded grounds, helping residents get back on their feet.

From clearing roads to towing vehicles, officials and volunteers have been providing much-needed services to those struggling in the aftermath of the weather deluge:

Ali Shimmari, founder of the UAE Rescue Group that has been on the ground since Wednesday, was in a garage when we spoke to him.

"The last of my vehicle has broken down," he said. "This was one of the most challenging and extensive rescue operations we have ever been part of. We had over 40 people in 30 vehicles spread all over Fujairah," he said.

For the group, the first day was all about saving lives.

"Every street we turned into, people were stuck. We helped hundreds of those who had no shelter," he said. "From the second day, the group's focus was to remove cars from the street. The entire stretch of road from Fujairah to Khor Fakkan was blocked with cars. We assisted the police and civil defence to remove them."

He shared a video the group had posted on their social media pages.

The group drew heavily on their 2018 experience of rescuing thousands from Jebel Jais after heavy rains.

"We had all the needed machinery and equipment needed for such a rescue," he said. "Even so, at least five of our cars have been completely damaged due to the operations. But that is ok. Everything cannot be saved. People are safe. That is what matters to us."

Another volunteer, Faisal, spent the first two days helping rescue people and clear vehicles from water-logged streets.

He is now assisting with clean-up procedures.

"Now that the water is being drained, people have to deal with the aftermath. In some houses, residents are knee-deep in mud and dirt. It is really a sad state to see so much destruction."

According to volunteers, the Fujairah government is assisting residents by providing cleaning services.

"A lot of residents are taking stock of their homes and compiling loss reports," said Faisal. "However, it could take a couple of days before we know the full extent of help needed."

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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior said operations are in full swing to clear streets of floodwater. A video the authority shared showed recovery cranes fishing out vehicles that got swept away in the floods:

The Ras Al Khaimah posted photos on social media that showed considerable damages caused to roads because of the heavy rains and flooding:

The emirate's emergency and crisis management team inspected the roads to understand the extent of the damages caused.

The team prepared a report detailing the damages and measures that must be taken to reduce risks in the future.

The RAK Police also posted a video that showed how emergency personnel carried out rescue operations. It showed police vehicles towing vehicles stuck in water to safety; officers wading through flooded streets to rescue children and families; and stranded residents being transported in rescue boats:

The Kalba Municipality shared photos showing workers clearing the streets of debris and floodwater:

Meanwhile, the Sharjah Police said roads linking the city to its eastern areas like Kalba and Khor Fakkan have reopened after ensuring safety.


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