Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When it rains, it pours! Or at least the effects are that of pouring!

Muscat doesn’t get much rain. Maybe 3-5 days a year are truly overcast and rainy. But when water does start to fall from the sky, it can be catastrophic. In 2009, a cyclone disabled the entire city. Everything was underwater.
Yesterday, a small amount of rain fell. I was at my Arabic class with the other YESers, and we had just finished and were waiting for our driver when we looked outside and freaked out—’PRECIPITATION!!’ though our American-rain-snob-selves admitted that it wasn’t real rain. Just sprinkling. But still exciting, because water was falling from the sky. Dancing commenced.
Today, however, came the real gullywasher. Perhaps by Wisconsin thunderstorm season standards it wasn’t much, but you have to remember that Muscat virtually has no gutter system. The water tends to just sit there. So, even though there wasn't a whole lot of water in the grand scheme of things, the effects were drastic. Also, Muscat is sandwiched between the mountains and the ocean. Water drains down to the sea, but that means that it goes straight through the city. There’s no alternate route. When the rains come, wadis fill up and wash out homes, businesses, and roads. This particular rainstorm was heavier than the sprinkles that Muscat can handle, and, as a result, things are pretty crazy here now.

A multi-car crash in Muscat

  • ·         City Centre Qurum’s roof has collapsed in one part.
  • ·         Ruwi, the business district, is totally underwater.
  • ·         Several multi-car accidents happened today.
  • ·         An important (and brand-new) bridge is totally under water because it has no drainage system, and, in fact, it is a drainage location.
  • ·         A hospital is completely flooded.
  • ·        School was let out early, and our extra Middle Eastern History class at AMIDEAST was cancelled.
  • ·         Nandos, a restaurant, exploded. Something to do with a gas tank and water getting into it. I’m not sure what the extent of the explosion is.
This kind of thing is really inopportune for Muscat, especially because it is almost the Eid Al Adha holiday, and people have plans to travel out of Muscat. Really, though, it isn’t safe to go on the roads if you’re most places in Muscat.

City Centre Qurum's roof

Luckily, I live on a hill. There’s a lot of water, but it’s not sticking near here and our house has not flooded. I actually had a wonderful time out in the rain with my youngest host sister and then my sisters and I all ate lunch on the steps in front of our house, just watching the rain fall.

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