“We didn’t have time to put shoes on or wear a scarf. The water came in so suddenly that it made us rush to find the children and carry them to a safe place,” said Jawaher Al Bloushi, a 21-year-old who was with her family at their house in Al Sharia, Fujairah, when flash floods hit the emirate on Sunday.
Twenty five houses were evacuated in the area and around 600 people were affected by the floods that followed a weekend of hail and heavy rain across the UAE.
Families were provided with meals by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) and sheltered at Asem Bin Thabit School in Sakamkam after their houses were destroyed by the floods.
Twenty people were at Ms Al Bloushi house, eight of them were children aged between fifteen and one. “The men tried to take the water out using buckets, but with no hope,” the Comorian said. “It was unstoppable.”
Hussain Said, a 47-year-old from Pakistan who was at his house with six other family members, said: “It was a real nightmare. The water came suddenly from everywhere and it even came out from the drain. We tried to take the water out, but it kept coming in and rose until it covered half of our bodies.
“It started to rain early in the morning, but the water came at around 11am from the nearby mountain. It has never happened before and we were all shocked and didn’t have time to take any of our belongings or passports,” said Mr Said.
The heavy rain caused water levels to suddenly rise by more than one metre in some residential areas, causing damage to properties and cars.
Mr Said and his family left their house and stayed in the car, waiting for a rescue team.
“I took my two grandchildren, aged one and two, to the car and the rest of the family followed us. We waited for the rescue team there and saw our stuff floating in front of us and we couldn’t do anything,” Mr Said said.
Eventually, Fujairah police and civil defence teams rescued the family using boats.
“They came with inflatable boats and rescued us. After that we were moved to the school where they provided us with food, blankets and a place to sleep.
“We don’t know what will happen or how we will go back to our house. Nothing is left there and we don’t have money to cover the loss,” said Mr Said.
Hanifa Ali, a 60-year-old Pakistani mother of four, was preparing for her son’s wedding before the flood. “We bought new furniture for him, electronics, clothes and all the stuff he needed to get married, but the water came and took everything. For three years I have been waiting and preparing for this moment, but now everything is gone,” she said.
“I lost more than Dh400,000 in the storm and I don’t know what to do. It’s something out of hand, but we count on our leaders’ generosity and help,” said Mrs Ali.
Brig Mohammed Al Kaabi, commander-in-chief of Fujairah Police, said no casualties were reported during the evacuation, only property was damaged.
“Only property damage has been reported with no casualties. The families were evacuated by Fujairah police and the civil defence department. They were relocated in collaboration with Fujairah welfare association and the community police department,” said Brig Al Kaabi.
140 affected people in Al Ain city and 48 in Kalbaa were also evacuated. They have been checked into a number of hotels.
The ERC is collaborating with all of the relevant state departments, including the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, Civil Defence and police departments to provide the victims of the floods with the necessary support.
ERC teams have also provided psychological and moral support to the affected families.
An emergency room was established three days ago by the ERC General Secretariat and branches following warnings of unstable climatic conditions from the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology.