Torrential rains on Sunday once again brought Kuwait to a grinding halt. Fallouts from heavy downpours have become a recurring phenomena in Kuwait every year, as roads, motorways, underpasses and low-lying areas get submerged by the flood waters. Frantic calls for help from people stranded in their homes in low-lying areas, or from drivers and passengers trapped in their vehicles while driving are also a repeated event each year. Yet no one seems to learn from past experiences, neither the public, nor the authorities.

It was no different on Sunday as heavy rains and winds slashed down on the country. Luckily there were no reports of loss of life from the inclement weather and rains, which according to officials at the Meteorological Department, exceeded 60 mm in some areas, which is more than half of Kuwait’s average annual rainfall of 100 mm.

And, as usual, the litany of blame-game began even before the rains subsided. At the fore were lawmakers, who immediately shifted the blame on the government, especially the previous ministers concerned with ensuring the safety and maintenance of public places and road networks. What the lawmakers conveniently forgot to mention was their role in impeding parliamentary proceedings and passing bills that are crucial to the effective and efficaciou working of a government.

Lawmaker Mubarak Al-Ajmi fired the first-shot and blamed former public works minister Rana Al-Fares and held her responsible “for what is happening on Kuwait’s roads”, adding that she had been given the opportunity to make the necessary repairs during the closures because of the coronavirus pandemic, “but she failed”.

For his part, MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari called on the government to declare today a public holiday because movement on roads will be extremely difficult. He said the damage from rains has happened again because of accumulated corruption. He held the government responsible.

Media reports indicate that many residential areas were turned into lakes, while thousands of vehicles were stranded on submerged roads, as the interior ministry urged the public not to venture out except for emergencies. Teams from the army, the national guard, municipality and fire department, in addition to the public works ministry and others were busy throughout the day trying to drain water that filled many underpasses.

State media agencies from several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have been reporting torrential rainfall in recent days, including the United Arab Emirates cities of Dubai, Sharjah and the capital Abu Dhabi, with official WAM news agency saying the bad weather was expected to last until Thursday.

Heavy rain has also been inundating areas in Saudi Arabia, impacting pilgrims in the holy city of Makkah. The Saudi civil defense warned that moderate to heavy rain was expected to continue in several regions. Oman TV had on Saturday announced “stormy rains of varying intensity” in several regions of the country, and howed images of wet roads and rising waters. Authorities in Qatar urged residents to remain vigilant and forecast “stormy rains” and strong winds in several parts of the country from Sunday.

Firemen, security personnel
at the fore in search and rescue

Kuwait Army firemen have joined their civilian counterparts, security and traffic personnel, as well as the National Guard, in rendering assistance to those caught up in yesterday’s deluge, as well as participating in search and rescue operations on roads and areas submerged under the torrential rains that hailed down on Kuwait from the early hours of Sunday morning.

Department are partaking in efforts to reopen roads that have been swamped with torrential rain since Sunday’s early hours. The director of moral guidance at the chairmanship of staff, Colonel Mohammad Al- Awadhi, said in a statement that the Army firemen have been pumping water from several public places and roads in Al-Farwaniya Governorate and from locations opposite to Al-Messilah Bridge due to flooding in these places, as well as from other low-lying sections of the road where high levels of water accumulated due to improper drainage or its inefficient maintenance.

In a statement issued on the occasion, the Kuwait Fire Forces said that its teams responded to over103 calls for help and rescued more than 106 persons who were stranded amid the raging waters on roads, while some were rescued from their homes and basements that were flooded by the torrential rains. The fire force noted that most of the calls were from the Hawally and Al-Farwaniya Governorates. The statement urged people to remain at home and not to drive outside unless it was an emergency.

A press release from the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) on Monday morning announced that several points along the main roads that had been closed as precautionary measure since Sunday morning have now been reopened to traffic. The ministry pointed out that among the sites reopened are the Sixth Ring Road, as well as the Al-Ghazali and Al-Mangaf tunnels.

Kuwait National Guard personnel are helping to cope with weather hardships.

Spokesperson for MPW, Abdullah Al-Ajmi had informed the public through a statement on Sunday that the ministry’s emergency teams have spread across the country to face and deal with troubles caused by the heavy rainfall. He indicated that the teams are coordinating with other concerned ministries and authorities.

He also added that in a bid to prevent the closure of roads due to rains, the ministry had earlier distributed several water pumps to areas where rainwater was expected to accumulate in the eventuality of heavy rains. The statement also cautioned the public to avoid using roads during heavy rains, as there was the high risk of water accumulating in low-lying sections of roads and motorways, especially in underpasses of overhead bridges and intersections.

The statement noted that the ministry was currently working on several new roads or renewing and realigning existing roads, especially along the Sixth Ring Road in order to expedite and smoothen the flow of traffic along these routes.

The education ministry statement further clarified that all final exams across middle school levels, in addition to grades 10 and 11 students, initially scheduled for Monday will now be held a day later, the education ministry said in a statement.

Kuwait Army firemen pump water out of swamped locations in several locations throughout the country.

On Monday, Kuwait continued to witness sporadic heavy rainfalls, with dark, cloudy and windy weather prevailing in many places. National Guard personnel are also involved along with their civilian and army counterparts in providing a helping hand in efforts following the heavy rainfall on Sunday.

Official spokesperson for the National Guard, Colonel Dr. Jedaan Fadhel, said in a press briefing that personnel from the Guard were involved in helping to drain some areas that had been submerged by flooding, in particular areas near Kuwait International Airport, to facilitate the flow of traffic. Other teams from the Guard also carried out similar work in the Sabah Al-Ahmad district, and on Al-Ghazali Road, where personnel rescued one person who was trapped in the deluge. Personnel and workers of several Kuwaiti authorities and departments have joined forces to ease the hardships caused by the heavy torrential rain, witnessed throughout Kuwait since today’s early hours.

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