More than 40 people have been killed and about 30 are missing in Yemen after torrential rain hit Hadhramout.
Writing at Moments In Words From Hadhramout, Omar Barsawad brings us the story.
Traveling in and around Hadhramout is not safe and can be dangerous, at the moment. For the last three days, it has been raining continuously in most parts of Hadhramout, Mahra and Shabwa; at times, the rain is heavy but for the most part, it's continuously drizzling. This is no good at all.
In our Arab custom, we celebrate rain – a blessing from God. Barsawad explains:
People, especially Bedouins, celebrate when it rains; as that means water. Water: which in such a dry place like here, is so precious and a luxury to many. But when it rains this heavily and so continuously, it causes only problems; sometimes causing extensive damage and many times – it takes lives.
He further adds:
With the earth here not that porous, torrents of floods are now sweeping in several places; as of today: several bridges, houses cultivated lands – have been swept away by the floods. Many roads are now impassable; including the main road from Al Mukalla to the Wady, inland. Within the Wady itself, many villages and towns have now been cut off from each other by flooded or swept away roads. As the rains are forecast to continue for the next few days, there will undoubtedly be more destruction; very hopefully, no lives will be lost.
Sadly this wasn't the case – and many people have lost their lives. According to Reuters:
Floods killed 41 people and around 31 are missing in Yemen after torrential rain left swathes of the impoverished country under water, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday.
Around 1,700 homes have been destroyed, he said, displacing hundreds of families in the floods that swept the southeastern provinces of Hadramout and Mahra following 30 hours of heavy rainfall.
Barsawad cautions people travelling in the region, saying:
Any one traveling around, must take extreme care. It's very easy to be swept away by floods; most people who lose their lives from floods, are those who are ignorant about what it can do here, or those who are reckless. It's most advisable to listen to what elderly locals say; they know best. Wherever one is, if the locals advise against traveling further or in a certain direction, it's best and safe to listen. Never cross any flooded road however still the water seems or safe it looks – unless many people are already crossing that road. Never park or stay long in a valley; try to keep on upper grounds.
In an email to Global Voices Online, Barsawad writes:
There's no electricity or piped running water in most of Al Mukalla; and the Internet is very slow and shuts down most of the time – from late Wednesday to yesterday, I didn't have any Internet connection. For me to write that last post, I had to do so on Word and then quickly copy and paste in my blog and get all the links done within minutes.
This morning the sun is shining brightly, and Insha Allah (by the will of God) water will dry up. The biggest problem now here, is in Wady Hadhramout (where there are now thousands of people who have fled their homes – including my relatives. I am afraid when all is finally assessed the damage will be huge and the death toll will rise. As you know, most houses in Wady Hadhramout are built of mud – with the heavy rain, floods and pools of standing water, many houses are simply melting down; and as the villages and towns are cut off from each other, supplies like vegetables and other essentials becomes a problem too (as most shops are closed). Anyway with the President here now, I am sure all will be done swiftly to get things back to normal.
Our prayers with our friends in Hadhramout at this difficult time.
That’s much better than the drought in Syria. Here in Morocco it’s been reported that some dams are 100% full for the first time since 1970 (compare with http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020903/2002090324.html ). Condolences to the victims, though.