Jeddah floods

You don’t usually think of Saudi Arabia as a place for high water, but the coastal town of Jeddah is starting to look like Australia.  Three days after the initial flood, water is beginning to recede, and now there are official reports of 11 deaths.

[photo credit: Saudi Gazette.  More photos here. h/t John Burgess]

Some claim the city of Jeddah has no drainage system, but what’s this?  Sure looks like a water truck, but quite a bit larger than the one that pumped water up to the tank on my roof in Amman.  Maybe that’s the sewage system it’s pumping water into.  
That used to be an issue in some of Amman’s suburbs, whether houses had their sewage and rainwater runoff connected to the proper systems.

Amman is built on rock. The water pipes are above ground; you step over them when you walk in the street. On the day when they turn on the water (Wednesday in my neighborhood) the pipes leak onto the street. When you wake up in the morning, you know it’s water day because you can hear the sound of the cars splashing through the water. Heavy rains used to send water cascading down the street at the bottom of Wadi Sacra, 8 stories below my apartment. If I got stuck away from home it was too dangerous to cross the street. I would have to walk some distance up the hill to find a place where the water was not too deep to cross.

I don’t understand how it can flood in the desert. Flash floods, yes, a flash flood in Petra once killed several dozen tourists in the Siq (a canyon) I believe, but these photos are from three days after the rains stopped, if I understand the problem correctly. Why would the water not just flow to the sea, or sink into the sand?

I see Jeddah is surprisingly large, over 3 million people–almost comparable to Chicago in size.

Will there be an independent fact-finding committee to analyze the problem and put it on their website, say, 6 months from now when all this is forgotten, do you suppose, or have the Saudis yet to reach that level of bureaucratic subtlety.

Hmm, looks like Jedda does have an official website, but unlike the Australian websites that show public service information like bridge and road closures, there is nothing, absolutely nothing about the floods. Maybe their Arabic language website does better.

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