Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – Brigadier General Abdullah al-Jeddawi, Director of Civil Defense in the Jeddah governorate denied that any information regarding the death-toll following the latest heavy rains and flooding in Jeddah was being kept secret, confirming that 10 people had been killed by the torrential rainfall and ensuring floods. He also confirmed that the material damage caused by the second Jeddah floods were far greater than the first Jeddah floods [which occurred in November 2009] due to the increased scope of the damage.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from his office in Jeddah, Brigadier General al-Jeddawi said that “the State is being transparent and clear by announcing all the details and effects [of the floods], and I say this honestly – in front of God – that the number of deaths attributed to disaster stands at 10 deaths, including 5 that we [the Civil Defense] dealt with directly, and we were informed of the rest via the police, whilst there are 4 missing, after a 5th missing person was discovered the day before yesterday after his family informed us that they had found him alive and well.”
Al-Jeddawi also revealed that the Civil Defense is searching all areas [of Jeddah] for Saudi citizens reported missing, in contrast to their operations in 2009, where search focused upon the flood canals.
Al-Jeddawi denied reports that the Civil Defense operations were focusing on eastern Jeddah and completely ignoring some regions of the city, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we may have focused part of our operations on eastern Jeddah because this area requires this, however all members of the Civil Defense were dealing with events around the clock, and in some cases the number of Civil Defense members in the field stood as high as 4,000 members.”
Brigadier General Al-Jeddawi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “due to the high level of rainfall, there were only two ways of rescuing [trapped citizens] and that was either via boats or aircraft which encountered many difficulties in this regard, especially in light of the presence of satellite dishes and water tanks on the roofs of houses.” Although Al-Jeddawi acknowledged that “this represented a major danger” he added that “aircrafts saw more than 500 flying hours” in the rescue search for those affected by the flooding.
The General Directorate of Civil Defense has also issued new warnings about weather conditions expected in the next few days, and has called on everybody to take caution and follow official guidelines,
In a statement issued by the Saudi Arabian Presidency of Meteorology and Environment yesterday there is a chance of moderate to heavy rainfall in parts of the Rabigh province, accompanied by strong winds.
The Jeddah municipality estimated the cost of resurfacing and reconstructing the streets of Jeddah that were affected by heavy rainfall and floods as standing at close to 100 million riyals. The Jeddah municipality has begun work to resurface the streets in the subsidiary areas, and has organized 24 street resurfacing teams, with an average of 2 teams operating in each area of Jeddah. The Jeddah municipality has revealed that this work is scheduled to be finished in some areas of the city within the next two weeks.
Jeddah Municipality’s media department has revealed that the road resurfacing work will see asphalt being re-applied on roads in northern and southern Jeddah, as well as the resurfacing of all major roadways, with the Saudi Ministry of Transport carrying out the required technical reports and issuing the necessary orders for this work to get underway.
The media department also revealed that its budget has been increased by 10 percent in order to cover these urgent operations, and that the plan of action in place includes the establishment of road resurfacing teams at every municipal branch. This would see the head of the municipality in question identifying priorities in terms of the roads that were most affected [by the flooding] as well as the importance of the road in question terms of traffic flow.
The professional volunteer program, the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation; directed by Dr Ali Bin Naser al-Ghufais, has implemented directives to intensify its efforts to reduce the effects of the Jeddah disaster. This corporation launched an emergency maintenance program to reconstruct and repair the homes of those affected by the recent floods in Jeddah, and this represents one of the most important programs offered by this organization in order to help the affected citizens and residents of Jeddah.
The director of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation in Mecca, Dr. Rashid Bin Mohamed al-Zahrani, revealed that this organization was carrying out a number of programs to help those affected by the Jeddah flooding, including programs that targeted cars affected by the floods, houses in need of repair, and a program which provides technical support to the Jeddah Civil Defense. Al-Zahrani added that the corporation was working according to his work-plan to coordinate with the relevant authorities and support and aid those affected by the Jeddah floods.
Al-Zahrani also clarified the mechanism that will be implemented with regards the repair of houses damaged in the flooding will see the owners of such houses recording all of their details and the nature of the damage, with a technical committee visiting the house to examine this, following which a technical team comprising all the required disciplines – electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc – will immediately begin work to repair the house in question. He confirmed that the directives of the Director-General of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation will result in ongoing operation until there are no more applicants requiring home repairs.