PICK­ING UP THE PIECES AF­TER FUJAIRAH FLOODS

▶ Re­ced­ing wa­ter re­veals ex­ten­sive dam­age to homes, writes Ruba Haza

The National - News - - NEWS -

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

Pic­tures: An­tonie Robert­son / The Na­tional

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

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