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Rain floods Jeddah streets anew

By MD HUMAIDAN | ARAB NEWS

Published: Jan 3, 2011 23:32 Updated: Jan 3, 2011 23:43

JEDDAH: Heavy downpours in many parts of Jeddah flooded streets disrupting traffic once again on Monday.

Residents in the eastern districts of Quwaiza and Suleimaniya fear rainwater would encroach into their houses due to the poor drainage system in the area.

The Civil Defense, the municipality and the traffic police have teamed up to confront any eventualities caused by rainfalls. The Civil Defense has focused its attention on the eastern districts in order to prevent a repeat of the deadly deluge of November 2009.

The municipality said it is making strenuous efforts to remove water from streets. The new rains came after the municipality announced it had removed floodwaters caused by Thursday’s rainfall from all streets.

Meanwhile, the residents of Umm Al-Khayr, which was one of the hard-hit areas by Thursday’s rains, on Monday met to discuss the possibility of taking legal action against the municipality for not taking precautionary measures to prevent flash floods.

“This is the second time our area is inundated because of rainfalls,” said Ismail Qashgari, a resident of the area. “The municipality has got budget allocations to prevent flash floods. We’ll ask for compensation for material damages caused by floods,” he said.

Experts have warned about a possible outbreak of dengue fever and other water-borne diseases due to large pools of stagnant water that have formed in Jeddah due to the heavy rain last week, Al-Madinah newspaper reported.

Streets in many residential districts of Jeddah, especially those in the eastern parts of the city such as Al-Samer and Al-Tawfeeq, are still immersed in water.

Experts say large puddles may turn into breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and insects. Khaled Ba Al-Khair, professor of water science at King Abdulaziz University (KAU), said these swamps pose serious environmental problems and a hazard to people’s health due to an increased risk of contagious diseases, such as dengue fever and skin and respiratory diseases, being transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes.

Echoing the same view, Muhammad Sayeed, a professor of microbiology and environment at KAU, warned against a second outbreak of dengue fever unless the municipality swings into action with swift preventive and precautionary measures.

He also urged local residents not to allow their children to play in stagnant water as they are often polluted with raw sewage from household septic tanks. Sayeed noted that the municipality has so far not fulfilled a promise it made following the November 2009 floods that it would implement a drainage system within one year.

Al-Khair said pools of stagnant water threaten the foundations of buildings, especially old ones, as water leaks into the ground below. “This will cause the buildings to crumble,” he said.

Civil Defense evacuated on Sunday night three buildings in Jeddah’s historic Balad district following reports that deep cracks appeared in the walls of one of the old structures in the area. According to Maj. Abdullah Al-Amri, spokesman for the Civil Defense in Makkah province, the houses evacuated were close to dilapidated buildings.

“We requested the emergency evacuations as we wanted to ensure the safety of all residents if any building collapsed, particularly since rains could come any moment,” Sami Nawar, head of the municipality’s historic zone, told Arab News.

The Presidency of Meteorology and Environmental Protection forecast more rains during the week in the western region as well as other parts of the Kingdom.

For more information visit: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article228951.ece

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