PICKING UP THE PIECES AFTER FUJAIRAH FLOODS
▶ Receding water reveals extensive damage to homes, writes Ruba Haza
Walking back into their house after it was badly damaged in flash floods two weeks ago was not easy for young Emiratis Marwa and Mohammed Al Mismari.
The siblings lost all of their beloved toys, books, clothes and schoolbags in the flood on December 17.
“Everything is destroyed and a lot of our stuff is missing,” said Marwa, 11. “My favourite shoes and school bag are all gone, even my dolls.”
Mohammed,12, said: “I’m really sad that we can’t return to our house. The water took everything – our books, photos, clothes and memories. And now we have no house and no money.”
The family left their home in Al Ghurfa, Fujairah, a day before the floods, as their 50-year-old house was battered by strong winds.
“The house is very old, the walls and ceiling were cracked and started to fall apart due to the weather,” said Mubarak Al Mismari, 49.
Mr Al Mismari, his wife Sakina Al Haji, 43, and their two children shared the house with his stepdaughter Samin Sameeallah, 23, her husband Faisal Sarwan, 25, from Pakistan, and their two daughters Maria, 2, and month-old Mayar.
The family was granted a plot of land in 2009 as part of a government housing initiative but they could not afford to build a new house.
“The contractor asked for Dh40,000 to connect the house with electricity and I couldn’t afford that so we stayed at our old house,” Mr Al Mismari said.
His wife said that the water destroyed all of their electronics, furniture and personal belongings.
“When we went to the hotel we didn’t know that this would happen so we didn’t take anything, only a few pieces of clothing,” Ms Al Haji said. “Everything else was damaged by the rain.
“I’m glad that we are all fine but I don’t know what will happen next. We don’t have money or a house to stay in and we are desperately in need of help.”
Their livelihood is also threatened. The couple had been earning a living by turning used tyres and metal barrels into seats and tables.
“All of our tools, equipment and paint that we used to earn a living were also destroyed and we are left without anything,” Ms Al Haji said.
The family now faces eviction from their hotel apartment because they cannot pay the rent.
“We don’t have any money left and we will soon be kicked to the streets unless we pay the rent,” she said.
The heavy rain caused water levels to suddenly rise by more than a metre in parts of Fujairah this month. Twenty-five houses were evacuated in the area, with about 600 people affected.
They were sheltered and fed at Asem bin Thabit School in Sakamkam.
“We stayed for three nights at the school then they told us that it was safe to go back so we did, but it was a mess,” said Mushtaq Mohammed-Baksh, 60, who moved from Myanmar to the UAE 56 years ago.
“Mud, dirt, water was everywhere and we are still cleaning to this day. I have five daughters, three sons and three grandchildren,” he said. “Our passports, birth certificates and other documents were left in the house and was found all wet.
“Yesterday, some people came and gave us some furniture and money. It’s relieving to find good people around you but we still need a lot of time, money and effort to bring back what we lost in the storm.”
Many families are hoping for financial help after losing all their possessions.
“The situation is bad and we don’t know from where to start,” said Raja Zahidali, 41, a Pakistani father of four. “We are living in a mess and we don’t have the money to get back on our feet, so any financial support would definitely help us.”
We are living in a mess and we don’t have money to get back on our feet, so any financial support would definitely help us RAJA ZAHIDALI Householder
Mushtaq Mohammed-Baksh and his family sheltered in a school after flash-flooding across Fujairah. Mr Mohammed-Baksh, who points to the high water line left on the wall of his house, praises his neighbours for their help
Mubarak Sultan gets on with the unhappy task of packing up and sorting out damaged belongings as he tries to rescue some of the items at his flooded family home in Al Ghurfa area of Fujairah city