Monday, January 14, 2008

Jeddah goes on Flood Alert

Sunday, 13 January 2008
By Adel Al-Malki

The Municipality here put emergency teams on standby after the Met office warned of the likelihood of heavy rain in the Western Province and other parts of the Kingdom over the next few days.

Emmad Bukhari, member of a municipality committee formed to tackle rain-related problems, said a well-thought-out plan is in place to make sure that water is quickly pumped out of flooded streets.

When it rains in Jeddah, generally once or twice a year, the streets get flooded quickly, traffic gets bogged down and trees, traffic lights and electricity posts get blown down by accompanying winds.

Municipality officials have in the past attributed street-flooding to pipes in the city's storm water drainage network being clogged with caked waste and mud from the hot, dry and long summer months.

Besides, the drainage network does not cover the older and more densely populated parts of the city, like Safa, Rehab, Bani Malik, Sharfiyah, Kilo 3, etc. where life usually comes to a standstill in the rain because people are trapped indoors or refuse to venture out into the inundated streets.

Bukhari said that this time around, the Municipality has six emergency teams of 100 workers in total to clear open the drainage holes along roadsides.

"Some 220 tankers will be available to clear the water pumped out from the streets," he said.
Bukhari said that the plan "will minimize rain-related problems since it is based on past experiences and includes every possibility to increase efficiency."

The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment has warned of a chance of rain in the next few days in the southwestern and western highlands, the east and north.

"After this report the municipality formed the emergency teams," said Bukhari. "The plan is to remove rain water from the main streets within 24 hours, the service and side street within 48 hours and the parks within 72 hours.

Government bodies participating in the plan include the Ministry of Water and Electricity, General Directorate of Roads and Transport, Civil Defense, Security Patrols, Traffic Police Department and Saudi Electricity Company.

"The Ministry of Water will take charge of the drainage system and the Directorate of Roads and Transport will deal with the flooded roads, using pumps and tankers if necessary," Bukhari said.

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