Dubai families count the cost of damage to homes after worst floods in years

Emiratis in Rashidiya say they waded out of their homes in waist-deep water when drains quickly clogged up

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As the recovery operation after some of the worst flash-flooding in Dubai continues, residents are bracing themselves for more rain on Wednesday.

Three days of high winds and heavy rain caused widespread disruption, bringing traffic to a standstill and forcing hundreds to flee their homes.

Families in low-lying areas returned to their homes to assess the damage – and are concerned there may be more flooding this week.

The National Centre of Meteorology said more rain could sweep into the UAE on Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday, although it is not expected to be as heavy as the weekend storms.

Emirati businessman Talib, 43, has lived in the Rashidiya area since he was six months old.

He left his home on Saturday morning when water poured through the doors.

The drainage system failed and was not taking water away. We waded though waist deep water with our possessions as we left, we only grabbed clothes for a day or two

“The drainage system failed and was not taking water away, rather recirculating water from different drains in the community,” said Talib, who left his home near Nad Shamma Park, close to Festival City, with his wife at about 7am.

“Sand, dust and dirt had accumulated during the summer, blocking the release of water,” he said. “When the rains came, our area flooded very quickly. We waded through waist-deep water with our possessions as we left. We only grabbed clothes for a day or two and my laptop bag.

“When I got to my car, that was also partially submerged.”

It is the second time Talib’s home has flooded in only a few weeks.

Raw sewage poured out of bathroom drains, filling homes around the neighbourhood and destroying furniture and fittings.

At least 25 houses in the neighbourhood were damaged.

Those seeking shelter said they struggled to book a taxi, as drivers steered clear of flooded areas.

Some found prices for hotel rooms had increased from Dh600 a night to more than Dh1,000.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Nick Webster: Ruined items are thrown away because of the flooding. Flooding in Rashidiya area of Dubai. Monday, January 13th, 2020. Rashidiya, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Sultan Al Mughiri, who lives in the same area of Rashidiya, watched as rising flood waters ruined his furniture. “The problem has been from the drain water and sewage, rather than the rains,” he said.

“Everything is destroyed, the TV, beds, cupboards – everything.

“My father has kidney failure and needs dialysis.

“We called the ambulance to come and collect him but it couldn’t get through, so five of us had to carry him out.

“He needed to go to hospital as his blood pressure was very high.”

Officials said climate change was to blame, rather than any cloud-seeding operations planned to encourage rainfall over the UAE. Talib, who is staying in a hotel with his wife while his home is cleaned, said the storms were the worst he had seen in his four decades in Dubai.

“The first time I experienced this flooding was in 1988 when we had to move out of our home, but this is the worst I’ve known,” he said.

“We also flooded in 2008, and again just a few weeks ago during National Day in December.

“We did not expect this to happen again so soon. Our only concern is the rain forecast later this week.

“What happens if it rains heavily again? Paint has come off all the walls and the drainage holes in the toilets were pumping out sewage water. It is not healthy.

“The only positive has been the strong community spirit that we have all felt here this week.

“The authorities need to see the situation so they can take more precautionary pre-emptive measures in future.

“We know they are taking this seriously. All we can do is hope for the best.”