Cyclone Shaheen alert stood down, leaving Al Ain residents relieved

UAE avoids the worst of the storm with schools reopening for in-person classes and authorities standing down emergency teams

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Al Ain residents breathed a sigh of relief on Monday as Shaheen caused only mild rain in the area after the destruction the storm left behind in Oman.

After making a landfall on Sunday, Shaheen was downgraded to a tropical storm and weakened significantly. By the time it reached the city, it had little impact.

Authorities in Abu Dhabi on Monday announced that educational institutions in Al Ain could open for in-person lessons and construction work could resume.

Covid-19 testing and vaccination tents also reopened, while access to Jebel Hafeet was also reinstated.

Emergency teams were also standing down after the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (Ncema) had drawn up a detailed plan to face any eventuality.

I got scared and took the warning to stay home very seriously. I was very worried that it would be very bad. But, it did not rain much
Moomal Tariq, student

Moomal Tariq, a PhD student at UAE University and an Al Ain resident, said she had been extremely concerned when she heard that her city could be affected by the cyclone.

After watching the footage of the cyclone causing devastation in Oman her worries had increased. She had removed all outdoor furniture and secured the doors and windows at home.

“I had to give my driving test today but when I heard that they shut schools I decided to stay home," said Ms Tariq, who is from Pakistan.

“I got scared and took the warning to stay home very seriously. I was very worried that it would be very bad. But it did not rain much.

“When I woke up, the roads were wet and there were a few puddles but after that it was mild.”

Puddles seen in Al Ain city. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Ms Tariq said she moved all clothes that were drying outdoors and any plants kept outside as she feared the winds could destroy them.

“We were very glad the impact was not as bad as we had imagined."

She said her friends in the UAE and family in Pakistan had been calling her to enquire about her well-being.

A briefing held by Ncema on Sunday heard how authorities across the country had readied themselves to face different possible scenarios.

The plans put in place could also be reactivated for any future emergency situations.

Dr Taher Al Amiri, spokesman for Ncema, said eight national plans and 31 local plans to deal with the storm were activated with the participation of 20 national bodies and 82 local bodies.

Public awareness was also critical to the work with messages disseminated in at least 19 languages.

Jeff Evans, a British resident in Al Ain and principal at Global English School, said: he was grateful the storm did not have a huge impact.

"It was a lucky escape," he said. "It was far less impact than we expected."

His school, including all the others in the emirate, moved online for the day.

Mr Evans said there were no strong winds or torrential rain through the night or on Monday.

But he had moved all light furniture indoors as a preventive measure.

Oman bore the brunt of the cyclone with at least 11 people losing their lives. Hundreds of families were forced to flee as the storm led to flooding in towns across the northern Batinah region.

Police helicopters flew people from their homes, while the country's ministry of defence rescue teams searched affected areas.

Cyclone Shaheen brings heavy flooding to Oman: in pictures

Updated: October 04, 2021, 2:58 PM