Saudi Arabia – Hundreds Rescued as Floods Hit Western Areas

Hundreds of people have been rescued from stranded cars and flooded homes after heavy rain hit parts of western Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, 21 November, 2017.

Civil defence teams reported that, as of late 21 November, they had rescued 481 people, mostly from vehicles stranded in flood water, and responded to a total of 1,989 calls for help. At least 10 families have evacuated their homes.

Rescues were carried out in areas around Makkah, Madinah, Tabuk and Al-Jouf. Severe flooding was also reported in the city of Jeddah, where schools and universities were closed and some flights cancelled.

Some flooding was also reported in Taif and heavy rain was reported in Ha’il, with over 100 mm falling in 24 hours.

Streets were under water up to 50 cm deep in some of the affected cities, causing major traffic problems. In rural areas, wadis turned into raging rivers, causing significant dangers for drivers.

Deaths Reported

Local media are reporting that several people have died after being electrocuted in flood water in both Jeddah and Makkah. Civil Defense also say that at least 1 person died after a wall collapsed in Jeddah. However it is not clear if this was a result of heavy rain or flooding.

Jeddah

Jeddah has a history of flooding over recent years. In 2009, as many as 122 people died in flooding in the city. Jeddah saw further floods in 2011, where 10 people died. Since then a range of measures has been introduced in the city in order to deal with flood water, including a 7 metre high dam and 2 separate drainage canals of 730 metres and 3,000 metres.

November Floods in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia suffered similar heavy rainfall and floods in both November 2016, where at least 3 people died, and also in November 2015, where 12 people died.

Danger of Wadis

Wadis – the dry beds of seasonal rivers, regularly used as roads or crossing points, or are situated alongside roads – often provide one of the biggest danger in more remote and rural areas during times of heavy rain in Saudi Arabia. These dry beds quickly turn into raging rivers in times of rainfall, when rain moves rapidly on the dry rocks and earth and down surrounding steep slopes.

Saudi Arabia Civil Defense have carried out over 400 flood and high water rescues. Photo credit: Saudi Arabia Civil Defense

Social Media

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