Friday, 9 January 2015

Flooding hits Gaza cities as farmers start facing storm losses

Hundreds of Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday were forced to evacuate their homes due to rising water levels, as winter Storm Huda began to take a toll on the besieged coastal enclave on the third day of its landing.

Hatem al-Khur, an official in the Khuzaa municipality east of Khan Younis responsible for the displaced, said that 49 mobile homes had been inundated in the neighborhood of Abu Rida in his city, while 100 more families were living in destroyed homes that he deemed uninhabitable.

"People are calling us for help and we are not capable of helping them after the recent war," he said, highlighting that the families most severely affected by the storm had all lost their homes in Israel's summer assault that left 2,200 dead and 110,000 homeless.

He told Ma'an that locals are calling upon international institutions to intervene and end their suffering, as local officials lacked the resources to help.

Muhammad al-Meidana, spokesman for Gaza civil defense teams, told Ma'an that other areas hit badly by floods were the al-Barahmeh and Obeida neighborhoods of western Rafah, where residents had to flee dozens of homes that were flooded by rain water.

Several homes were also reported flooded east of Khan Younis, also in the southern Gaza Strip. more

Ruined Gaza homes offer little shelter from storm

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Living by candlelight with no electricity and reliant on sandbags to stop their ruined homes flooding, Gazans who survived last year's war are now struggling with a brutal winter storm.

As millions across Palestine and Israel hunkered down for the worst storm of the winter, freezing rain and gale-force winds battered the Gaza Strip where more than 100,000 homes were destroyed or damaged during the 50-day conflict.

Wael al-Sheikh, 37, lost his home during an Israeli air strike and now lives with his two sons in a tent pitched among the ruins.

But with no access to electricity, it is impossible to fend off the cold.

Fearing that the winds of 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour would simply blow their makeshift home away, they have sought refuge with relatives.

Imad Mutlaq's home was also largely destroyed in the July-August war and the wind whistles through the cracks in the walls.

"We have no electricity or heating," he told AFP, describing the first night of the storm as "difficult."

Thirty-year-old Mohammed Ziyad, father to two young sets of twins, is trying to put on a brave face.

During a previous storm, the ground floor of the building where they live flooded, but this time he said the family is well prepared.

"We have stocked up on milk and nappies in case we find ourselves stuck indoors." more