Muscat: The slow speed of Cyclone Luban has given emergency responders vital time to make sure everyone is safe, but the full fury of the storm has yet to be felt, according to a senior official.
Video: Wadis overflow across Dhofar after heavy rains from Luban
Officials expect the number of people in emergency shelters will quadruple overnight into today (Sunday), as Luban makes its way inland, but the National Committee for Civil Defence is ready to tackle whatever is thrown at Oman.
Over 1,300 people are currently in shelters, and that number is expected to increase to 4,000 by today, according to Lt Col Faisal Al Hajri, Director of the executive office at the National Committee for Civil Defence.
“We have not seen the worst of the storm, and that is why there have been no injuries or deaths,” Al Hajri told Times of Oman.
According to the Public Authority for Civil Aviation, heavy rains were expected to begin on Saturday night and continue throughout Sunday.
Read here: Heavy rainfall to continue in Dhofa
“We are ready to face it when it comes. We have already recorded more than 1,317 people in shelters - Omanis and expats - but this number is expected to rise."
“These shelters are for those who need it, as many people have already evacuated themselves and left their homes in lower areas, in particular Rakyut and Dhalkut, where many have self evacuated to stay with their relatives elsewhere,” Al Hajri added.
Also read: Evacuating your home? Keep these essentials in an emergency bag
“There are 71 shelter centres in Dhofar and three in Al Wusta,” said Hamood Al Mandhari Coordinator for Relief and Shelter at the National Centre for Emergency Management.
“Sixty-one shelters are working and ready to use in Dhofar, and 10 are on standby.”
There are currently 447 Omanis and 870 expats in shelters.
“On Saturday morning there were 800 people in shelters, by the afternoon that number increased to 1,317. By Sunday the figure could reach 4,000,” Al Mandhari added.
According to Al Mandhari, there are 18 opened shelters currently housing the public. Additional shelters will gradually be opened, based upon demand. Authorities had begun preparing shelters beforehand.
“What really helped us this time, is that this storm did not develop as fast as Mekunu, so we had enough time to prepare and make sure we reached the areas that were cut off before,” said Al Mandhari.
Shelters provide all the basic needs for the public, which include water, food, blankets, and pillows.
“As a start, we sent 25 tonnes of relief items to Rakhyut, 8 tonnes to Salalah and another 8 tonnes to Sadah,” noted Al Mandhari.
“We coordinated with the Oman Charitable Organisation and assigned four trucks to carry relief items to Rakyout Dhalkout, Sadah and, Salalah. We will increase the amount based on weather developments,” Al Mandhari said.
“Thanks to pre-deployment and proactive measures, responses has been fast, especially in the areas that were cut off during the previous cyclone, Mekunu,” Lt Col Al Hajri added.
The Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance announced that 307 people were evacuated to shelter homes in Wilayat Sadah and Mirbat over the weekend.
In addition, eight crew members were rescued by authorities after their ship became caught between rocks,in the Wilayat of Sadah.
The National Centre for Emergency Management also announced that on Thursday, the coast guard responded to a distress call from two passing ships, and 26 expats were rescued. All basic services are still running smoothly.
Meanwhile, Eng Sultan Al Rawahi, the coordinator of basic necessities at the National Centre for Emergency Management (NCEM), said all reports received by the centre have been dealt with.
“The majority of the reports we received were from Wilayat Dhalkout and Sadah. We are expecting heavier rains on Saturday night, compared to Friday, nonetheless, all emergency call centers are ready,” Al Rawahi said.
Regarding the services, Al Rawahi added, “Thankfully there has been no shortage of water, fuel or any other basic necessity. In Wilayat Mirbat there was a slight cut in electricity, but it was restored within a short period of time.”