Donations surge for Cyclone Shaheen victims as Oman continues rescue operation

The Central Bank of Oman and Bank Nizwa were among the first donors

A total of 7.35 million rials ($19.11 million) has been raised by banks and businesses to help repair homes destroyed by Cyclone Shaheen, Oman News Agency (ONA) said on Wednesday.

ONA named the Central Bank of Oman, Bank Nizwa and telecommunication company Omantel as the donors so far.

“More are expected to donate during the course of the week,” a spokesman from the Oman Charitable Organisation told The National.

Sixteen organisations have registered to raise money for those impacted by Shaheen through the Oman charitable donations portal.

Oman on Tuesday began to clean up the damage left by Cyclone Shaheen, which killed at least 11 people, destroyed homes, damaged infrastructure and forced more than 5,000 people into temporary accommodation.

Most of the damage is in Oman’s Batinah region, in the towns of Al Musannah, Suwaiq, Saham, Khabourah and Sohar, which were hit by 60-knot winds and 12-metre high waves.

Home owners who had properties destroyed welcomed news of the donations.

“It is good news for us and we are very grateful for all the donors who have been kind enough to donate the money to repair our houses. My compound wall is flat on the ground and many of my windows have been broken,” Said Al Balushi, a homeowner in Suwaiq, told The National.

Shop owners were also hit hard by the storm but many are unsure if they will get help from the private donations.

“As shopkeepers, are we going to be counted as victims of the cyclone? My house was not affected much but my shop is completely ruined. There is nothing to sell because I have no business left with no income. I really hope we will be in their donation plans,” Moosa Al Sahlani, a shopkeeper in Saham, said

On Tuesday, the sheer devastation caused by the cyclone prompted Oman's ruler, Haitham bin Tarek, to order his cabinet to form a committee to assess the extent of the damage.

The committee will assess private properties affected by the storms to support homeowners and private businesses. It will be led by the minister of finance.

It is not clear yet if the government will raise money from central government funds to help victims, or whether private donors would bear the responsibility.

Oman TV said search-and-rescue operations continued on Wednesday to find people trapped in flooded areas using helicopters and dogs. Hospitals remain on high alert.

Some roads remain blocked by mud washed up by excess water in Wadis. The Royal Oman police said it was working to remove the blockages and provide food and water to those evacuated from their homes.

Members of the Scouts and Guides joined the clean-up effort and pitched in to help at evacuation centres.

Yaqoub bin Khalfan Al Nadabi, Director General of the General Directorate of Scouts and Guides said the group wanted to help due to a feeling of "social responsibility and national duty".

Photos released by the Oman News Agency showed scouts in their recognisable neckerchiefs using shovels to clear mud.

Updated: October 6th 2021, 5:07 PM
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