Heavy flooding in Mosul hampers rebuilding efforts

Amid lockdown to combat coronavirus, residents are moved from homes as heavy rain damaged those being rebuilt

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Northern Iraq was hit by heavy rains this week, causing flash floods that triggered a new wave of displacement in major cities such as Mosul.

Neighbourhoods along the Tigris River were most affected by unexpected levels of rain over the past few days and the flooding began on Tuesday evening.

Heavy rain causes flooding in Mosul

Heavy rain causes flooding in Mosul

Floodwaters damaged homes being rebuilt after the war against ISIS and overwhelmed the city’s sewerage system.

Residents say floods occur often in Mosul and charities across the city have been fund-raising to support displaced families.

“Volunteer teams are on high alert," said Ali Al Baroodi, a lecturer at Mosul University.

"They are raising funds to buy basic things for people who have had to leave their homes."

Mr Al Baroodi said people were collecting food, blankets and basic everyday items.

The rain came during the city’s lockdown, put in place by the city’s governor to curb the spread of coronavirus.

epa08304668 An Iraqi man walks amid a flooded street in Mosul, northern Iraq, 18 March 2020.  According to media reports, heavy overnight rainfall in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh disrupted daily activity, as floods tore through parts of the city's already dilapidated infrastructure.  EPA/AMMAR SALIH
An Iraqi man walks amid a flooded street in Mosul, northern Iraq. EPA

“On Tuesday night, there were torrential rains falling on Mosul city,” said Zaed Alweis, a local activist.

”The waterways became flooded and most homes in this area lost services.”

Rescue efforts began the next day, with police, emergency service workers and volunteers saving people trapped in their homes.

“Cars were damaged as was furniture in homes that were flooded,” Mr Alweis said.

Police and volunteers distributed food to the rescued families, but the effort has been hampered by the lockdown because people can only leave their homes for emergencies.

“Government response was timid in the face of the crisis facing the city,” Mr Alweis said.

The rains have also overwhelmed the sewerage system in the city.

“The water pipes are blocked with rubbish,” said Alaa Ghanim, a resident of east Mosul.

He said some of the displaced families were staying in hotels.

“Nobody expected the flooding to get into people’s homes,” Mr Ghanim said. “We have had floods before, but usually they’re in the streets.”

Another Mosul resident, Mohammed Juma, who has been helping to hand out humanitarian relief to displaced families in the city centre, said the water was more than a metre high in some parts of the old city.

“We are handing out blankets and food to the residents who have lost everything," Mr Juma said.

"A number of young people are also currently working to rescue families who are stuck at home."

He said residents had little response from the government or local authorities.

“Al Qawseat in Mosul was severely damaged by the floods," Mr Juma said.

"It’s the only area that has seen some response from the government but it’s still not enough.

"That’s why the civil defence and other humanitarian groups have had to come to their assistance."

Torrential rain also hit neighbouring Jordan this week, causing flooding and the rerouting of flights.