UAE floods: volunteers help families in eastern region return to homes

Aster DM Healthcare teams support those dealing with the fallout from July storms

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In more than 30 years of living in Kalba, Sharjah, Uday Kumar had never seen the kind of rain before that decimated his family home.

But only two weeks later, thanks to hours of voluntary work from disaster recovery teams, he is ready to move back into his house and begin months of painstaking repairs.

Floodwater from a nearby dam, following torrential rain and thunderstorms, left behind debris and mud that forced the family to flee their home as they helplessly watched their possessions be washed away.

Normally, thunderstorms and heavy rain make us feel serene, but now it scares us
Uday Kumar

Like many of his neighbours, when the rains ceased and floodwaters sank, Mr Kumar was facing a huge clean-up operation.

It was the voluntary work of 15 young people from the Aster DM Healthcare group, in association with Youth India Fujairah, that has helped families to return to their homes.

“I got a call early on the Wednesday at about 4am from my friend asking me if there was water inside my house,” said Mr Kumar, an electrician who lives with his wife and two children.

“It was raining heavily. I checked and, at that time, there was no water and I decided to go back to bed.

“When I woke up at 8am, there was water everywhere.

“Nobody knew how this could have happened; people were saying the water came from a nearby dam.”

Aster Volunteers clean up floodwaters in Fujairah.

Mr Kumar’s house in Kalba, a small coastal city south of Fujairah, was completely flooded.

With the waters still rising, he was forced to grab important valuables and documents and evacuate his family to a cousin’s house.

He has lost all his furniture, home appliances and most personal belongings, along with one of his two cars which was completely destroyed by floodwater.

“I have got so much to do to fix all the damage to the house. It’s going to be a major expense,” said Mr Kumar, who is from Kerala, India.

“We hope we can figure out a way to repair it. We also need to paint the entire house, which is going to be a huge expense, but for now, I have decided to paint the interiors first.

“We also need to have a lot of carpentry done and the doors need to be fixed as well."

Mr Kumar praised Aster Volunteers for their help in the clean-up operation.

“They cleaned up all the debris from the flood inside all the rooms and were gracious enough to go the extra mile and disinfect everything as well," he said.

Before and after the work done by volunteers at the home of Uday Kumar in Kalba. Credit: Aster

Like many affected by the flash floods, Mr Kumar was without insurance and is facing huge repair bills to the home he has lived in for 18 years.

The costs have forced him and his wife, a receptionist, to abandon plans for a trip to India to see their daughters' admission into university.

Aster Volunteers was established in 2016 as the corporate social responsibility arm of Aster DM Healthcare. It was founded to serve as a catalyst for social impact and a platform for those who wish to contribute to humanitarian efforts.

The group's disaster management team provides immediate healthcare support to victims of natural disasters and emergencies.

A team of volunteers from Dubai were sent to Kalba to provide much-needed support for those coping with the devastating impact of the abnormal storms that swept across the region. The storms led to seven deaths and the rescue of more than 870 people.

Despite the traumatic events of July 27 and the risk of more potential storms in the years ahead, Mr Kumar is determined to stay living in Kalba, albeit with a different outlook on life.

“The floods have delayed a lot of my plans,” he said.

“This is the first time I have experienced such an incident in my 33 years of living in the UAE. We have no experience in dealing with such a situation.

“I consider myself fortunate to be able to collect my valuables before leaving the house."

My Kumar said he had no plans to move and intends "to fix everything that was ruined and replace everything we lost".

However, the terrible events of last month have left a lasting impact on him and his family.

“Normally, thunderstorms and heavy rain make us feel serene, but now they scare us," he said.

“My kids find it hard to sleep these days.”

Updated: August 10, 2022, 6:44 AM