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Immigrant Villages in Israel Hit Hard in First Winter Rain

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Considerable damage was caused in the immigrant work villages of northern Israel early this week when the first heavy pre-winter rain swept the whole country, sparing the Tel Aviv area alone.

The Jewish Agency immediately mobilized its forces to assist the newcomers, giving special priority to some 1,600 families living in canvas structures. When the two-day rain hit, many of the huts lost their roofs because the canvas, weakened and decomposed by the strong summer sun, fell apart.

Tiberias and the adjoining area suffered minor floods which damaged several buildings. The situation of five maabarot in the Tiberias vicinity became critical overnight. One hundred immigrant families, who had been living in the open for the last two months since their arrival, fled to the adjoining administration units for protection from the rain.

Several tents collapsed and many of the tin huts were flooded as their roofs began to leak and the water seeped in under the floor boards. In other immigrant villages the sewage pits overflowed when the inadequate drainage canals became overloaded.

Jewish Agency circles last week said that immigrants who had spent last winter in the tents would be spared the experience this year. The Army has already been asked to take over the administration of several of the camps. It is hoped to keep the number of families who must spend the winter under canvas to 600-800.

Large quantities of canvas are en route to Israel or have already arrived at the ports, but a shortage of trucking keeps much of the canvas from reaching the immigrant villages. Windows for tin and wood huts are in even shorter supply and glass is rationed. The two inch thick cement floors in the huts is inadequate but neither money nor cement is available for thicker floors.

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