New flood warning as labourers tell of losing everything they own

Authorities in Fujairah and RAK are on alert as a new flood warning after several flash floods have taken lives and caused havoc in recent weeks.

Abu Dhabi experienced a brief thunderstorm with driving rain on Monday morning. Deepthi Unnikrishnan / The National
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FUJAIRAH // Thunderstorms forecast for the north and east of the UAE threaten to bring more flash floods this week, weather forecasters say.

There may be flash flooding in Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain from Tuesday until Thursday as cumulus clouds start to develop across the mountains, said Dr Ahmad Habib, a forecaster at the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology.

“The dams are full due to the last rainfall and we expect wadis to overflow, so we urge people to be extra cautious and stay away from water sources,” he said.

There has been a spate of floodings in recent weeks, including a flash flood that claimed the lives of a mother and three of her children in Ras Al Khaimah last month.

Last week, labourers in Merbeh could only look on as 18 cabins at their labour camp were destroyed in a thunderstorm that hit the north of the country. About 180 labourers lost all their personal belongings and had to be relocated to another area in Fujairah.

Their employer, Majestic Marine Engineering, said it was a miracle that no one was killed. The flash flood occurred after the labourers had left for work.

A company spokesman said: “We did a headcount and made sure that everyone was safe, then we assigned a team to calculate the loss. Within 12 hours, the employees were relocated to a new accommodation building and were all provided with new personal items, mattresses and some cash.” Fujairah Municipality assisted with the relocation, while residents helped to provide the workers with basic items such as clothes, shoes and personal hygiene products.

Dilesu Bai, a 33-year-old Indian spray painter at Majestic, said he had been planning to visit his family next month but had lost all the gifts that he had bought.

“I bought new clothes for my wife and children, some electronic devices and gold worth Dh6,400 – all were gone during the flood,” he said.

“My vacation is next month and I don’t know what to do. I have been searching for my things on the beach since last Friday but couldn’t find anything.”

Zahid Ali, a 50-year-old Pakistani worker, said he was supposed to attend his daughter’s wedding next month but everything that he had bought for her had been washed away by the flood.

“I haven’t informed my family yet and I don’t know how I will attend my daughter’s wedding without any gift. It’s part of our tradition to buy gifts for the bride,” he said. “I have been saving and buying things for her for the past eight months and I lost things worth Dh6,000.”

​Ras Al Khaimah Police said it would increase patrols in areas prone to flash flooding to deal with any weather-related accidents.

Fifty patrols will be on duty throughout the emirate on Tuesday but particularly near valleys, while ambulance and rescue teams will be on standby.

Fujairah Police is also increasing the number of patrols in Merbeh, Qidfa, Al Qurayyah and Sakamkam.

Police urged residents to avoid valleys during bad weather and reminded motorists to keep a safe distance from the car ahead, to slow down while driving on wet roads and to always check the weather forecast before starting a journey.

Weather forecasters expect temperatures to drop gradually, with a high of 29°C and a low of 12°C in the inland.