UAE floods: Homes damaged, power outages, commuter chaos amid record rainfall


Apr 18, 2024. Posted by  Periscope - Hellas

The unprecedented deluge caused widespread flooding, submerged streets, felled trees, saw flights diverted away from the world’s busiest airport, DXB, and disrupted daily life across the country - but also saw acts of kindness


The United Arab Emirates is grappling with the aftermath of the heaviest rainfall it has experienced in 75 years, as residents are left without power and counting the cost of damages to their homes and cars.


The unprecedented storm has caused widespread flooding, submerged streets, felled trees, shuttered schools, saw flights diverted away from the world’s busiest airport, DXB, and disrupted daily life across the country.


Residents took to social media platforms on Wednesday to share images and stories of the devastation caused by the torrential downpour.


Speaking to Al Arabiya English, a resident of Al Waqa 1 in Dubai, Shahez Ahmed, said: “Residents, including myself, have been severely affected by the flooding, particularly in our building located in the corner of the area. The inundation of the roads saw the water breach our building, infiltrating critical areas such as the water pump room and the electrical room, leading to a power outage.”


Ahmed further explained: “Consequently, we have been without water, electricity, and gas for more than 24 hours now, with no option to prepare food or carry out basic household tasks. Despite continuous attempts to reach out to the building maintenance team, there has been little to no progress in resolving the situation.”


He said: “The flooding has also obstructed access to the building, making it impossible for grocery deliveries to reach us. As a result, residents, some of whom are trapped indoors, have been forced to navigate through waist-high water to procure essential supplies.”


Ahmed added: “This unprecedented event has left long-term residents like myself, who have called Dubai home for 24 years, shocked and concerned. Never before have we witnessed such severe flooding and rainfall in this city.”


A resident in Arabian Ranches, who asked not to be named, told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday she was without power after the flooding. “As of now, my house has no electricity or water, the roof in my master bedroom has collapsed, and water is leaking from the roof in every other room and garage.”


Residents in Damac Hills reported blown fuse boxes, power outages, and water gushing from ceilings and under doors


Other residents reported commuter chaos amid severe disruption at Dubai International Airport


Qasim Sharif, a traveler scheduled to fly to Bahrain on Tuesday, said: “We were made to sit in the plane for two hours before being told that the flight was canceled.”


Sharif added: “But that was just the beginning of my problems. Firstly, there was no Metro or taxi at the airport. After waiting for another two hours, when I finally managed to get a taxi, the next challenge was to get home in Town Square. All major roads were water-logged, and at one point, I thought I wouldn’t be able to get home and would have to check in to the nearest hotel.”


“Luckily, though, my taxi driver was a lifesaver who never gave up. Between him and me, we kept on changing routes, and after two to three hours, he managed to get me home. It was an apocalyptic experience, but I was glad that I was with my family by night.”


Prakriti Mahindra, another resident, found herself stranded at her workplace in JLT on Tuesday night. She said: “Since everything was flooded, I couldn’t get home. I somehow managed to get to the Taj JLT hotel. They were fully booked, but were really amazing and accommodated me at the last minute.”

 Residents witnessed the rain escalate from scattered droplets to a deluge within minutes.

 Neethu Liza Prasanth captured the intensity of the storm, saying: “Initially, there were just a few scattered droplets, barely enough to wet the pavement. However, within minutes, the intensity of the rain increased dramatically. Pedestrians dashed for cover, seeking refuge under awnings and in nearby buildings. Cars slowed to a crawl, their windshield wipers working overtime to clear the deluge. Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, disappeared into low-hanging clouds, creating an eerie and surreal atmosphere.”


Humanitarian heroes

Amidst all the chaos, heartwarming stories of humanity emerged.

 Business Bay resident Veera Ludhani was one of thousands of commuters stranded on Sheikh Zayed Road on Tuesday as she struggled to get home.

 The 53-year-old chief financial officer at Meena Jewellers left her work place at 4:15 p.m. and was stuck outside Emirates Towers.

 “Normally, it is a half-an-hour journey home, but by 5:15 p.m., I had reached only up to Emirates Towers and was completely stuck in traffic. There were thousands of cars not moving.”


Ludhani said until 8.45 p.m., she was still stuck at the same spot, with traffic ground to a standstill. “Everyone was sitting in their cars. It was, honestly speaking, something I could never have imagined. It was raining heavily. All five lanes were stuck.”


Her daughter forwarded her a message from Nasir Amir Qureshi, 36, the co-founder of Zeizzu, a chauffeur service in Dubai.


He had sent out a broadcast message that got forwarded multiple times, saying: “If you are stuck – just call us, and we will send one of our drivers across.”


Ludhani said she reached out to Qureshi, who said he was in the process of sending his 50 drivers out on foot to rescue people who were stuck in their cars and offered to drive their vehicles home for them while they sought public transport home or an alternative place to stay.


“I explained to him where I was. He told me to share my live location and that he would send a driver. Around 9:15 p.m. he sent a driver, who took the keys to my car,” she said. “I took the overpass over Emirates Towers and met my colleagues on the other side, and they were able to get me home.”


Ludhani added: “The driver [from the chauffeur service] returned my car home at 1 a.m. He was stuck for hours, just trying to get the car home. I asked him (Qureshi) what I could pay his driver for this service. I was desperate – I’d have paid anything. But he kept saying, ‘It is free. No charge. I am doing this for humanity.’ I was amazed. It restored my faith in people – in humanity.”


Qureshi later told Al Arabiya English: “I was myself stuck in Sharjah, but my co-founder and I agreed that we would send our 50-man driving fleet across to whoever needed help. Sheikh Zayed Road was completely blocked, so our team had to physically walk up to the cars.”


“Some of our drivers got drenched multiple times, and we had to brief them to carry extra clothes and supplies, but even their bags got soggy in the rain.”


Qureshi added: “In my religion (Islam) we are taught that in difficult times, if you can help someone, you should, in whatever way you can.”


Anjum Iftikhar, a resident of DAMAC Hills 1, who was born and raised in Dubai, said: “I haven’t seen this amount of rainfall and its intensity in a single day in my lifetime of stay in UAE.”


“Whilst we do know the challenges residential communities are facing to bring their life back to normal as per the damages witnessed via the videos circulating, we have to praise the unsung heroes assisting others to combat this situation.”


‘Unprecedented’ insurance claims likely CEO Neeraj Gupta told Al Arabiya English the cost of repairs to houses, cars and businesses could individually run into thousands of dirhams, as he said the country would likely witness an “unprecedented” number of claims.


“The exact amount will only be known in a few days once all the affected people who have bought insurance policies start reporting their claims and the surveyors start filing their estimates,” he explained. “However, what we saw yesterday was unprecedented. Even the insurers are currently struggling to understand how to handle such claim volumes.”


Gupta added: “Claims will get registered from today and over the next 15-30 days. The biggest loss will be for users with only third-party insurance as most insurance companies will not cover across this.”


He added: “It is important to note that third-party insurance policies do not cover damage to the insured vehicle caused by flood or rain.”


He said it is not recommended to skip recommended add-ons like roadside assistance and specific covers that protect against natural calamity.


According to Gupta, drivers should be careful while driving in flooded/water-clogged areas as some policies may not cover all aspects arising out of flood and rain damage.


“These heavy rains serve as a stark reminder of the importance of having proper insurance coverage. By investing in insurance for cars, shops, and malls, individuals and businesses can safeguard themselves from the financial consequences of unforeseen events,” he advised.


Record rainfall

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday witnessed the largest amount of rainfall in its modern history over a 24-hour period, marking the highest since climatic data recording began in 1949, Emirates News Agency WAM reported.

The National Center of Meteorology confirmed a record-breaking rainfall – about 120mm of rain - drenched the country within 24 hours, in an exceptional event in the climatic history of the UAE.

The rain shuttered schools, saw public events cancelled, and shopping malls suffering serious damage.

Tanker trucks were dispatched on Wednesday across the country to pump away the water.

Images posted on social media some residents take to kayaks and paddle boards to navigate the knee-high waters.

Regional flooding

Torrential rains and strong winds have also battered neighbouring Bahrain and Oman, where at least 18 people were killed in flooding.


Al Arabiya