Floods cause emergency in Gaza


(JTA) — The United Nations declared an emergency in Gaza City following flooding.

In the statement published on its website Thursday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, declared a state of emergency in Gaza City, where hundreds of residents in flooded areas have evacuated their homes. No casualties or injuries have been reported.

“We are very concerned about such severe storms this early in the season and on the back of unprecedented damage and destruction caused by the recent conflict,” said UNRWA’s director of operations, Robert Turner, referring to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day offensive against Hamas in July following rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

On Wednesday, approximately two inches of precipitation poured down on Gaza and Israel’s coastal plain within several hours, causing floods that exceeded the drainage capacity of Gaza’s weakened infrastructure. Gaza receives approximately 18′ inches of rain annually.

Some of the worst flooding occurred around the Sheikh Radwan storm water lagoon.

“We are particularly concerned for those families still seeking adequate shelter and preparing for the winter months, and for the impact the flooding is already having on children unable to attend school,” Turner added.

As a precautionary measure, 63 schools in Gaza City are closed Thursday for the afternoon shift, affecting almost 65,000 students. Forty-three schools in the North area of the strip are also now closed. Other UNRWA installations are still being assessed, though no damage has yet been reported.

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