Thousands of people displaced Hundreds of houses damaged

Abdul Aziz Oudah, Yemen Observer, October 28, 2008

Flood damage in the Hadramawt

Devastation in eastern Yemen after last Friday’s floods caused by heavier than usual rainfall.
Preliminary estimates from the floods in Hadramout and al-Maharah put the death toll at 184 with 100 others still missing.

Seventeen hundred houses were damaged, and ten thousand people have been displaced in the last three days.

The total cost of the damage is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of YR.

The government has declared Hadramout and al-Maharah disaster areas, and an emergency committee formed by the president said they have been providing immediate relief to vulnerable people.

The al-Saleh Foundation announced they were distributing emergency aid to the regions worst hit and the Hail Saeed group have contributed YR200 million to the government’s relief efforts, while businessman Tawfiq Abdurahim has donated YR 100 million.

Aid has been promised from a number of foreign and domestic sources. The UAE said they would supply urgent aid to people in the disaster area, whilst the Mohammed Bin Rashid Corporation announced they would begin an air bridge to the disaster area in Eastern Yemen to enable them to start distributing aid.

Tadhamon Islamic Bank has provided YR 150 million, while the CAC Bank supplied another YR 125 million.

Chairman of the Arab Gulf Program for the United Nations Development Organization, (AGFUND) Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz announced on Sunday they would donate 562,000 Saudi Riyals to support victims in Hadramout and Mahrah governorates.

The Islamic Conference Organization has offered Yemen $250,000 to help victims of the flash floods. Meanwhile, the President has ordered the provision of YR20 billion to begin providing aid to people affected by the floods.

Two thousand families in Tarim, and another 1500 in al-Qatan were being housed in schools. Five hundred houses were destroyed in Wadi Hadramout as a result of the floods, which destroyed all infrastructures in the area.

Rescue operations are currently underway by both ground forces and helicopters. Official sources said rescue teams used boats to save 25 people stranded in a commuter bus for 30 hours in Haswin area, and another seven people who were surrounded by water in a car at the rural development office. A government driver from the Ministry of Education died, while 4 of his companions were rescued.

President Saleh said the state will live up to its responsibility in dealing with the disaster in three stages. The first stage will constitute the rescue of those stranded by the flood, the second will be the provision of necessary relief and the third will be rebuilding what was damaged by the floods.

The Ministry of Health declared it was establishing an emergency operations room in the area. Dr. Majid al-Junaid, the Deputy Minister for the primary care sector said the ministry has taken urgent measures to deal with damage in the disaster areas.

Al-Junaid announced the ministry has sent 144 cartons of medicine, in addition to other medical supplies, adding that the Ministry of Health had formed a committee and special emergency room for follow up. He added the committee is now preparing a comprehensive health plan to face the disaster and its aftermath. Al-Junaid added the ministry has formed a field team to tour affected governorates to assess the situation, and report the needs of emergency relief teams to aid the ministry in carrying out necessary relief measures.

He said the emergency room received a preliminary list of needed medicines and appliances, which will be provided as quickly as possible.

Junaid said several international health organizations specializing in working in disaster areas were approached, including the WHO, Doctors without Borders, the Dutch embassy, IRCC, and UNICEF. He said the ministry has ordered their health offices in affected governorates to form emergency rooms, and to ensure they are ready for emergency situations.

According to Junaid, the ministry’s Malaria Program will conduct a spray campaign to kill mosquitoes in affected areas.

Five planes carrying urgent relief materials including food, blankets and medicines have already landed in Wadi Hadramout and other relief planes will land this afternoon carrying tons of necessary relief materials. A correspondent said helicopters are continuing their rescue operations to provide relief to about eight thousand people stranded in the Bair Hiban area in Wadi Hadramout.