Post-cyclone basic services recovery work in Oman nearing completion as residents rally to help one another
Everyone, old and young, embodies national unity in solidarity and giving. The Omanis embodied an eternal national epic in the face of Cyclone Shaheen, which caused catastrophic damage. The destruction was greater than words can describe. It is a manifestation of the greatness of Oman and its people that their will is strong and capable of conquering all challenges facing it and makes it a part of its strength.
THE restoration of basic services including electricity in most areas ravaged by Cyclone Shaheen is nearing completion thanks to the combined efforts of government and volunteers.
The National Committee for Emergency Management (NCEM) said almost 99 per cent of the services like electricity, water, telecommunications, fuel and roads have been completed in South Al Batinah governorate while 87 per cent of electricity work and 99 per cent of water and fuel services have been done in North Al Batinah.
“The relief and shelter sector is working hard to provide alternative residential accommodation until the damages are repaired in the affected homes. This is to ensure that the residences affected by the cyclone are ready for use,” the NCEM said in a statement.
It appealed to all donors to send all electrical devices that they plan to donate to the stores of the Omani Authority for Charitable Works in the Maabela Industrial Area.
“Donors can go to the stores from 7am to 8pm to ensure that they are distributed to the affected people according to their needs”, it said.
Meanwhile, Electricity Holding Company Nama Group launched a campaign that will focus on homes that face problems in restoring electricity.
The group will financially and technically support the licensed technicians of the Omani youth who are graduates of the Nakla program or licensed technical volunteers, to ensure the safe return of electricity to homes. The licensed Omani youth will join the volunteers of the Nama Group.
“The group believes in the contributions of employees to volunteer work. Volunteer employees from the group will also co-operate with the General Directorate of Youth and Volunteer Initiatives at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth to support those affected and rehabilitate homes, roads and facilities affected by the cyclone” said in a statement.
WOMEN HELPING OUT
As the sultanate witnesses one of the largest humanitarian efforts in the Northern and Southern Batinah regions post-cyclone, women are working shoulder to shoulder in co-ordinating aid deliveries.
These women from different wilayats and regions are rendering a well-synchronised service to families by washing and cleaning households affected by the cyclone.
"The presence of women in voluntary campaigns at the cyclone-affected areas is significant. We provide 250 meals for lunch and dinner for those affected by the tropical situation in the Wilayat of Saham. We were stunned by the cooperation and coordination of women in executing the initiative, and I believe this initiative represents a form of solidarity among the members of Omani society," said Ahmed al Buraiki, a journalist who is part of the rehabilitation activities.
Women can be seen with all the cleaning equipment, brooms and buckets in their hands, stepping in and out of various houses here Suwaiq, Saham and Musanah, while others coordinate the distribution of foods and other provisions along with men.
"It seems that young people, especially the young women, are determined not to give up until life returns to as it was before. I really admire this sense of unity at the faces of diversity," said Ishaq al Aghbari, a citizen.
"These volunteers are doing a great job in affected areas ignoring their other day to day tasks. I feel this kind of unity of peoples of various countries, of diverse ethnic backgrounds and different beliefs, coming together when humanity faced natural calamity, is a sight that we all can repose hopes upon," Mohammed Hameeda, an expatriate worker said.
There were mothers, working women, students, newly-weds and recent mothers in the groups in the cyclone-stricken places.
Thousands of volunteers from across the Sultanate along with personnel of Sultan’s Armed Forced took part in a national campaign to clean up Al Khaburah and Al Suwaiq — the wilayats in North Al Batinah ravaged by Cyclone Shaheen.
As the appeal to join voluntary work in North Batinah went viral, people from all walks of life poured in from governorates as far as Dhofar to remove debris and offer essential supplies to people.
“We are witnessing some heart-warming scenes coming in from North and South Batinah as more citizens, expats and organisations, from all over Oman reached out to help the cyclone affected families in Suwaiq, Khabourah, Barka and Musanah and began to clean the affected areas and offer food and other supplies,” social worker Nawal al Zadjali reported.
Companies, organisations, socio- cultural associations, social media influencers and the like under the umbrella of Oman Charitable Association rendered help to those in need. “Our trucks with relief materials reached people in need and distributed provisions to these families,” a representative of Huawei said.
“The dusty roads leading to Khabourah and Mussanah are packed with vehicles carrying provisions and people to help the citizens and residents of these areas,” said Najeeb K Moideen on WhatsApp.
“We registered online with the Ministry of Social Development to carry out rehabilitation works,” another social worker said.
There are still hundreds of houses which are unlivable with interiors caked in layers of mud and dirt. The roads and premises are littered with damaged vehicles, uprooted trees and animal carcasses.
Speaking to Oman TV, Major Muhammad bin Salam al Hashami, a spokesman for National Committee for Emergency Management (NCEM) said 80 per cent communications in Khaboura has been restored while it is 75 per cent for Suwaiq. He also said work is underway to assess the damages in basic services and repair them as soon as possible.
VOLUNTEERS LIFT SPIRITS
Volunteers along with defence personnel used lorries, shovels and dredging machines to clear the debris in the towns of Al Khaburah and Al Suwaiq. They cleaned premises and furniture, removed mud and stones washed up by the flood water, and supplied food, mattresses and blankets to the people.
Ahmed Al Riyami, Assistant Coordinator of the Relief and Shelter Sector, said: “It is expected that the number of volunteers will reach more than 15,000 volunteers, as the sector works to supervise and organise roles in cooperation with the Royal Armed Forces and other relevant authorities.”
The relief and shelter sector officials have started field visits to affected homes and document data of owners, to transfer financial aid directly to their account. The National Committee for Emergency Management (NCEM) said: “The relief and shelter sector has announced the start of field visits to affected houses and documentation of data to provide financial aid by direct bank transfer to their respective accounts. Owners of the affected houses are urged to be present to provide the required data.”
Widespread damage from the storm forced more than 5000 people into temporary accommodation. The government announced it was moving people whose homes had been destroyed by the storm to fully furnished accommodations until their properties could be restored. The government would pay RO 1000 to each property owner to help them repair their homes. Some roads remain blocked by mud and stones washed up in Wadis.
The Royal Oman police said it was working to remove the blockages and provide food and water to those evacuated from their homes.