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Residents, officials trade barbs over flood havoc
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 04 - 2016


Okaz/Saudi Gazette
DAYER BANI MALIK — Residents and municipality officials have exchanged accusations over destructive torrential floods that swept away vehicles and a traditional market in Dayer Bani Malik following heavy rain that lashed the region recently.
Mohammed Al-Shamrani, chief administrator of Dayer Bani Malik, held an emergency meeting to assess damages caused by the rain and floods.
He instructed the authorities to open roads and flood paths to ensure natural flow of floodwater, restore power supply to affected villages and submit reports on the impact of floods.
"Floods have washed away 10 vehicles and seven shops in Hashr, closed a number of roads and destroyed trees and footpaths," he said.
Residents have blamed the municipality for damages as the latter had constructed sidewalls in the valley, thus narrowing the flood path.
"The pathway constructed by the municipality in the middle of the valley, in front of the sheep market blocked the flood path, diverting floodwater to nearby shops," one resident said.
Dayer Municipal Chairman Ghassab Al-Otaibi denied the allegations and said the municipality had withdrawn the license of affected shops a year ago.
"A three-member committee has been set up to study the condition of shops damaged by the floods and a report will be presented to the governor," he said.
Al-Otaibi said the governor has instructed the municipality to construct an alternative market. A written undertaking has been taken from shop owners that they would close them at times of flooding.
"Owners of shops who do not follow this condition will not be qualified to receive any compensation if any future floods damage their shops," he explained.
"We have given shop owners temporary permits with conditions," he said, adding that the municipality would establish a central market along Qarhan Road.
The new market would accommodate all shops and business activities, Al-Otaibi said. "We have decided to acquire 81 real estate properties on the brink of the valley after conducting necessary studies."
Mohammed Kariri, head of administration in Jibal Al-Hashr said the people of Hashr are isolated from Dayer after torrential floods removed the pathway linking the townships of Jora and Ahrain.
"It will take time to repair damages caused by the floods," he said. "We have instructed government departments to repair roads to facilitate the movement of residents in Hashr and Janiba."
Yahya Bin Hassan Al-Malki, director of endowments and mosques in Dayer, said the mosque at the market has been closed after floods destroyed prayer mats and damaged the sound system.
"We have informed the ministry about the damages caused by the floods to the mosque and it will be repaired immediately," he told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
Shop owners in the Dayer market said they narrowly escaped death during the flooding.
"We have not seen such forceful floods in the past 15 years. It has swept away my shop completely," said Ali Al-Khaledi.
Abdullah Mohammed, owner of an electronic shop, said: "The flood has removed my shop completely and you cannot see any sign of the shop. It also destroyed my car. By the grace of Allah we are still alive."
Mushtaq, a Pakistani salesman, said the flood damaged fridges, washing machines and other electronic appliances in his shop. "I have lost everything."
18 people rescued
Meanwhile, the Civil Defense rescued 18 people after they were trapped in the floods in Aqiq governorate on Tuesday.
Baha Civil Defense Col. Jamaan Al-Ghamdi said there was heavy rain in Baha for five consecutive hours on Tuesday.
The region also saw hail falling on Baha city and neighboring governorates and villages such as Bani Farwah, Bani Dhibyan, Aqiq, Jarb, Nikhal, Balshahm, Bani Kabir, Bani Hassan, Bani Sar, Nawan, Al-Mikhwah, Baljurashi, Al-Shitaibah and Baida.
The Civil Defense pulled out 11 vehicles from being swept away with the currents of the valleys. One of the vehicles had 10 students of Baha University aboard.
The Civil Defense has also evacuated three houses.
The inclement weather caused a road accident resulting in two injuries. Four vehicles crashed and toppled over and the victims were transported to the hospital. The Civil Defense expects the tumultuous weather to continue.


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