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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Fujairah residents call for action after school pupils stranded for hours by heavy floods

Authorities are being urged to build a new bridge after a flooded wadi blocked the way home for hundreds of children

Ghaya Al Dahmani is one of the hundreds of pupils at Rumaitha Al Ansari primary school who was stranded for hours due to heavy flooding on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National
Ghaya Al Dahmani is one of the hundreds of pupils at Rumaitha Al Ansari primary school who was stranded for hours due to heavy flooding on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National

Concerned residents in a Fujairah town have issued an urgent plea for a new bridge to be built after hundreds of school pupils were left stranded when a wadi was hit by heavy flooding.

Pupils at Rumathi Al Ansari Primary School were forced to remain at the school for four hours, for their safety, after storms battered the area on Sunday and blocked their path home.

Now members of the public are calling for a bridge to be constructed at the wadi crossing — and for the standards of roads and pavements to be improved — to ensure they don't find themselves at the mercy of the elements again.

More than 600 pupils were unable to reach home when the deluge hit, with water leaking from the school roof into the classrooms, forcing them to seek shelter in the gymnasium.

Marbad town is located between the mountains, 33km west of Fujairah and 9km away from Masafi.

Fujairah Police said the pupils were kept at school for their own safety and were sent back to their houses after the roads were clear.

The wadi in the town of Marbad was flooded after the area was hit by a deluge of rain.  Pawan Singh / The National 
The wadi in the town of Marbad was flooded after the area was hit by a deluge of rain.  Pawan Singh / The National 

Ghaya Al Dahmani, one of the school pupils, said that teachers moved them to the gymnasium to keep them safe.

“We were sitting in class and the water started to drip from the ceiling, then the teacher took us to the sports hall and gave us water and chips,” said Ghaya, 8.

The third grade Emirati pupil said the road in front of the school was flooded with water, along with the wadi.

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“It’s the first time we have been trapped at the school but it wasn't scary and the teachers were always telling us not to worry and that we would be soon going home.”

Her mother said that, when the heavy rain began, she received a message from the school that they would be sending the children home early.

“When the school decided to send them home early because of the weather, the wadi started to flood and blocked the buses' way out of the school, and they stayed there until 4.15pm,” said Umm Obaid, 34.

“Civil defence teams and police were in the area to keep the children safe and find a way to get them back home,” she said.

The Emirati mother-of-four, who moved to the area 11 years ago, said that it is crucial that a bridge is built over the wadi crossing and she also urged authorities to pave the dirt roads and add more facilities and services to the town.

School buses are able to pass the wadi crossing freely again, but storms halted their progress at the start of the week. Pawan Singh / The National
School buses are able to pass the wadi crossing freely again, but storms halted their progress at the start of the week. Pawan Singh / The National

“I was really worried when I saw the wadi flooding as our house is located right next to it, and I was relieved when the school decided to keep the children at the school until the water levels come down,” she said.

“A bridge should be constructed and the road that leads to the school should be paved along with other internal roads in the town as soon as possible in order to avoid having another incident during the winter season.”

Rumaitha Al Ansari primary school teaches both girls and boys from grade one to grade four.

The school is located on the other side of the wadi opposite the town and the only way to and from the school is through the wadi.

Another Emirati resident said that the area surrounding her house was had completely flooded.

“We live next to the wadi on the same side of the school, the water was everywhere and my son was also stuck at the school for around four hours,” said Maryam Al Yamahi, a 40-year-old Emirati mother-of-nine.

“I thanked Allah for keeping him and all the children safe and I didn’t worry much because they were in good hands.

“We moved here from Al Bithna five years ago and this is the first time such an incident has happened. The school is still new but they need to pave the road in front of it and find a solution to the wadi.