Dubai Faces Persistent Flooding Due To Lack Of Storm Drains

UAE president orders families at risk to move to safe locations

When record rains flooded her home in Dubai, Riaz Haq expected the water level to recede once the rain stopped. However, instead of going down, the water kept rising.

“We went to bed and the water level was half a meter (half a yard),” the British lawyer said, recalling Tuesday’s storm that flooded homes, shopping malls, offices and roads.

“When I woke up, the water was one meter deep. The car was submerged and I was up to my waist in water. Everything was ruined.”

Haq, his wife and their dog were trapped on the upper floor of their two-story house for more than two days, and were finally rescued by a neighbor’s boat on Thursday.

The couple had little access to bread and snacks, but they ate little during that time and survived on only a few bottles of water.

“The fridge, the freezer and even my car were floating. Everything was floating,” he told AFP. “I had a brand new car and everything was ruined.”

“This is a natural disaster situation. No one was prepared for this level of carnage,” he added.

Throughout the ordeal, Haq’s wife and her neighbors (approximately 18 families living in a suburban residential area) were unable to wade through the waist-high, smelly water for fear of electrocution. Ta.

“Water is trapped.”

Lack of drainage proved to be a major obstacle to recovery efforts in the desert country, with roads around Dubai closed days later due to prolonged flooding.

Road closures have affected basic services, with supermarkets unable to restock products and many workers struggling to get to work.

Dubai’s airport, the world’s busiest for international flights, is severely affected by staffing shortages, with flight cancellations and delays expected to continue into the weekend.

Karim Ergendi, associate director at engineering consultancy Buro Happold, said stormwater drainage has not been widely incorporated into city plans, many of which are only a few years old.

“Someone must have vetoed this because of the fact that it hardly rains. I think this conversation was short-lived when it happened,” he told AFP.

“Water is trapped. If you have a hard surface like a road or an airport, where does the water go? The ground is too hard (to absorb water),” Elgendi added.

Without facilities to drain excess water, authorities rely on pump trucks to siphon it away with giant hoses.

Mr. Elgendy called this a “stop-gap” measure. But once the infrastructure is built, it’s very difficult to install a rainwater system, he said.

“Once a city is built a certain way, it’s almost impossible to retrofit stormwater management,” he said.

“Brand Dubai”

The heaviest rains on record occurred in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE), leaving four people dead, including two Filipino women who suffocated in their cars during flooding in Dubai.

Elgendy said the storm, which dumped up to two years’ worth of rain on Gulf states, was consistent with the effects of global warming, and warned that extreme weather events would become more common due to climate change.

“What this particular incident highlights is that the historical calculus (about whether to install a stormwater system) has changed because of the cost,” he said.

“There’s also reputational damage. I don’t think these scenes of runways and planes taking off in water are consistent with Brand Dubai,” he said. he added, referring to the footage.

UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has ordered families at risk to be moved to safety and ordered an urgent inspection of the country’s infrastructure.

Although Haq feels reassured by the support, uncertainty remains.

“We don’t know when things will get back to normal,” he said.

“They are using tankers to remove the water. It will take several days. But I am confident that the authorities will do everything in their power to get us back home.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)