Heavy rains—now apparently ended—have cause mayhem and deaths in Jedda and Mecca according to breaking news reports.
The fact is, because it rains so rarely in Saudi Arabia, Saudi cities lack infrastructure to deal with heavy rain. There simply are not many rain sewers and drainage canals to deal with a torrent. Roads and structures are not built to deal with the occasional floods, either. You can put this to bad city planning and civil engineering—as I do—or look for another cause, but the prospect of retrofitting cities with millions of residents spread over dozens of square miles is not a trivial issue.
So, while great precautions were being made to protect pilgrims from swine flu, not much was done to deal with the possibility of a natural disaster affecting both residents and pilgrims. Still, some sort of solution will need to be found. Floods in Saudi Arabia, as rare as they might be, are still disasters that can be mitigated.
(RTTNews) – The worst flood in 27 years in Saudi Arabia killed 77 people, reports quoting the Saudi government said Thursday.
Incessant rain until Thursday morning soaked the faithfuls and flooded the roads to the holy city of Mecca where millions are converging for the annual Haj pilgrimage.
The Red Sea port city of Jeddah received 2.76 inches of rain Wednesday, more than it gets in a year on average.
Seventy-three people were killed in Jeddah and four in Mecca. Saudi emergency workers rescued more than 900 people, the Civil Defense Authority said in a statement.
Wednesday’s downpour and thunderstorms paralyzed the entire city, flooding streets, destroying homes and sweeping away cars.
The Indonesian news service ANTARA also reported, but clearly from earlier in the day:
The Agence France Presse report notes that there are hundreds still missing: