Local heroes help Oman weather the storm
December 18, 2017 | 9:23 PM
by Times News Service
As rain, hail and snow batter the country, Omanis and residents rise to the occasion, cleaning roads, rescuing stranded people

Muscat: Rain, hail and snow have wreaked havoc across Oman in recent days, but ordinary Omanis and residents have risen to the challenge, cleaning roads, rescuing people stranded in high water and looking out for each other.

From the local farmer who used his tractor to make roads safe, to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) officer on duty in a snowstorm, and the simple acts of kindness displayed across the Sultanate, Oman has weathered one of the worst storms in recent history. Schools closed, walls collapsed and the roof of a college collapsed under the weight of the water.

Through it all, Oman’s rescue services responded, and responded, and responded. It is testament to the professionalism of the ROP and the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance that the number of confirmed fatalities stands at just two. They would rather that figure was zero, but without them, it would have been much higher.

Even as torrential rains affected several parts of the Sultanate, resulting in severe flooding and submerged roads on Saturday and Sunday, Omanis and expats put their own needs aside and decided to risk their own safety for the greater good.

In Ibra, which faced some of the worst that the adverse weather had thrown at the Sultanate, Jamal Al Harthi showed an example of social responsibility to others, drawing praise from all over the Sultanate, including residents in Shinas, Liwa, Muscat, Izki, Ibri,

Adam, Al-Khaboorah, and even the far-flung towns of Khasab and Dibba in the Musandam Governorate.

Based in Ibra, Jamal Al-Harthy unhesitatingly decided to clear the roads near his house, after he ventured outside to assess just how much damage the rain had caused.

“I was taking a short stroll with my kids, but I observed that my car wouldn’t be able to go smoothly because of the rocks and waste on the road,” Jamal said.

“Immediately, my small tractor came to mind. This is the one I use on my farm, and because this was a mountain road, it was important to keep it clear.

Al Harthi began cleaning the road at 5:00 pm, only stopping at 7:30 later that evening. Although he didn’t receive any help from his friends or neighbours, he saw helping others as an integral part of his duty.

“I didn’t think about the role of others, I was just trying to clear the way for others by removing rocks and debris,” he pointed out.

Given that this road connected vital points in Oman’s interior, it was a good thing that Jamal’s tractor had the tools to transport heavy materials.

“The tractor contains special pieces for controlling dust and stones,” he said. “The people reactions to what I have done were completely. I was surprised when I saw myself on social media, with people praising and encouraging me. I was really happy.”

This was the first time Jamal had seen such adverse weather conditions leaving such a large amount of rocks and debris in its wake. His advice, though, is simple for all people, “Everyone should help the government fulfil its role in such cases,” he advised. “We have to join hands together in order to keep Oman safe and beautiful”.

Jamal is not alone. There are more. Other residents also answered the call of those who were stranded in the rain. The road from Sur to Muscat, for example, saw one resident hitch his four-wheel drive to a car which had gotten bogged down in the slush caused due to the downpour.

“It was not a question of what was in it for me,” admitted Jithin Machado. “If I were stuck in such a situation, I would not like it if everyone ignored me and no one offered help. It was simply the right thing to do. Growing up, I was taught that you must treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Another resident Australian also unhesitatingly stepped forward to help those in need. “I was driving from Nizwa to Sohar, when I saw quite a few cars stranded on the side because there was water everywhere and they couldn’t get on the road,” said James Simon. “I was in a four-wheel drive so I was quite safe, but the others were not so lucky.

“Fortunately I spotted a tanker cleaning up the road just a few kilometres ahead, and they didn’t think twice before doubling back to help those stranded people,” he added.

While some people do take responsibility for social participation, the municipalities have also been tirelessly dedicated their efforts towards cleaning up places and removing obstructions to facilitate movement. Muscat Municipality and other local bodies in the Sultanate have used hoses to suction water which has collected in the streets, and removed all wastes and stones from main and internal roads.

Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) has also been working round the clock to make sure citizens and residents in Oman are safe from the heavy rain that has battered the Sultanate over the past few days.

One person was rescued from a tunnel after his car was submerged in Sohar, the agency reported on Twitter. The authority confirmed that the person is in good health. Teams in Al Batinah North also continued the process of sucking out water from citizens’ homes that were affected by rain, sharing a video of a submerged house in the area of Harmul in Liwa.

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