Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Cyclone Kyarr: Emirati towns set for relief as storm heads for southern Oman

Clear-up begins as hotels and homeowners count the cost of a two-day storm surge

Emirati towns are counting the cost of a storm that left schools closed and homes flooded as the biggest cyclone in a decade swept along the east coast.

Cyclone Kyarr was downgraded to a tropical storm on Wednesday and is expected to hit southern Oman by Friday. Salalah and Socotra island are forecast to bear the brunt.

Forecasters said the storm affected areas from Dibba in northern Fujairah to Al Hadd in Oman - more than 500km to the south.

The water has been cleared out but we need a permanent solution to prevent this incident from happening again

Badriah Al Zaabi, Emirati mother-of-four

Among the towns worst hit on the UAE side of the border was Kalba, where schools were closed on Wednesday.

“The water came right through our front door and filled the house in seconds,” Salem Ali, 39, told The National as he stood in muddy debris-filled water.

The Emirati father-of-three shares a home with his brother, who has six children, and both left for a nearby hotel on Tuesday.

“Many families evacuated their houses too, some went to their relatives while others were sent to hotels in Fujairah,” he said.

“There is water still in the house and we won’t be able to go back until we clear it out.

“It will need a lot of work and money to be repaired."

Badriah Al Zaabi, 43, a mother-of-four, lives in the same suburb, Khor Kalba, and was home when water rushed through the door.

“The house is built on low ground and each year we experience floods like this,” said Ms Al Zaabi, who returned home to assess the damage on Wednesday.

“I sent my sister to pick the kids from the school when the water started to increase in the morning around 10am. Then the electricity went off around midday.”

Civil defence officials sent buses for families and ferried them to the Royal Hotel in Fujairah.

“There are ten other houses that were evacuated yesterday from the same area," Ms Al Zaabi said.

“The water has been cleared out but we need a permanent solution to prevent this incident from happening again.”

Diggers were used to form make-shift sea barriers along the coast to prevent roads flooding on Wednesday, while pumps worked to clear standing water.

Kyarr is the strongest cyclone in the Arabian Sea in 12 years, second only to the category 5 Cyclone Gonu that ravaged the coast in 2007.

The damage caused has been from the periphery of the storm and the epicentre remains in the Arabian Sea. It is not forecast to directly make land in Oman.

In Al Aqah, the popular tourist and diving resort 50km to the north, hotel beaches were closed and debris was strewn on the sand.

The Miramar resort said its beach remained closed on Wednesday while debris was cleared and high waves continued.

General manager Ashraf Helmy estimated the storm caused hundreds of thousands of dirhams worth of damage.

“The weather started to change on Monday night and on Tuesday we closed the beach due to the unstable weather," he said, describing the waves as "metres-high".

“The seawater took many of our umbrellas, sunbeds and wooden partitions that were ‎placed on the beach and destroyed our beach restaurant,” said Mr Helmy.

The hotel had to close the Bahari Grill due to the damage.

“The glass was destroyed and shattered due to the strong waves - all of the chairs and tables were washed away during the storm,” he said.

Despite the disruption, he said the guests "are enjoying the view of the high waves".

“We are running in full occupancy and we haven't received any cancellations yet for the weekend," he said.

"We are working on reopening the beach Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather forecast."

Updated: October 30, 2019 05:37 PM

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