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When the UAE’s community spirit helped it weather the storm

When the UAE’s community spirit helped it weather the storm
19 Apr 2024 08:34

ALLAN JACOB & ISIDORA CIRIC (ABU DHABI)

The UAE’s “community spirit” united the country to weather the storm this week. President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan himself spoke in glowing terms about this spirit of unity that drives the country, and helped it deal with the record rains that affected normal life on Tuesday.

It shone brightly on water-logged roads, broken-down vehicles, homes without power, and when people and animals were stranded with nowhere to go as buckets of rain fell on Tuesday.

Strangers helped distressed people reach their homes safely. Many residents opened their homes to people they had met for the first time, while other provided food and essentials to those who struggled to find their way to their destinations in the downpour through water that was waist high and dangerous.

The UAE spirit was indeed alive and well during a difficult situation and every individual who extended their help has emerged a hero.

As previously reported by Aletihad, the downpours were the heaviest in 75 years and were not caused by cloud-seeding, as many foreign media outlets erroneously reported.

Casualties were limited despite the heaviest rainfall in 24 hours, with the loss of only one life reported from Ras Al Khaimah, of an elderly citizen. It proved that the country’s emergency response teams police forces were prepared for the conditions. Warnings, in fact, were sounded by the National Center for Meteorology starting on Saturday about rain-bearing clouds moving from Oman towards the country. Government officials were asked to work from home while schools also went remote during the heavy rains.

Amidst the gusty winds, local heroes emerged, offering a helping hand and heartwarming acts of kindness that brought the tight-knit UAE community even closer together.
Social media, brimming with frequent updates and videos, was a crucial resource for documenting these extraordinary moments and rallying support.

In response to growing concerns for their community, a UAE resident established a Rain Support WhatsApp group, an initiative that swiftly evolved into a vital coordination centre. The group’s membership surged rapidly, attracting scores of participants eager to offer shelter, help, information, and timely updates.

Worried strangers also ventured into the field, looking for individuals in need of assistance despite the distressing conditions. In one social media video, multiple kids were seen sitting on a staircase in a building overflowing with water, alongside many other residents, unable to leave. Mere minutes later, two men appeared in a kayak, inviting them to hop in and glide through the floods. Ensuring the protection of the two young boys, the men snugged them in life jackets and ushered them to safety, repeating the procedure with the remaining residents.

The selfless assistance was extended to animals too. A video posted on Instagram showed a cat struggling to stay afloat in the rising floodwaters, with its wet paws barely holding onto a car door handle. The animal’s helpless meows attracted the attention of two good samaritans who were riding in a boat nearby. Without hesitation, the men carefully grabbed the cat and let it dry off in their vessel, with the next frame showing all three of them driving away safely.

Dubai International Airport, where flights were disrupted, is slowly returning to normal, and will be fully operational on Friday. Thousands of staff worked through the night to make it happen as the city gets ready to welcome tourists in full force again.

Dubai Sports Council, meanwhile, honoured police personnel, emergency services workers, and others from the municipality, civil defence, health and ambulance services, who cleaned up the streets and directed traffic during the weather disruption.

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