Rain, rain, go away!

Saad Dosari
Saad Al-Dosari

Saad Al-Dosari

By : Saad Dosari

Back in the summer days, I was driving in Orlando, Florida, of the United States. The weather was pleasant and sunny, my family and I were all having fun heading to one of the attractions scattered all over the city. I was stopping on a traffic light when, in a blink of an eye, everything changed; the pleasant sun rays disappeared, the swift breeze turned to angry winds, and the sky started pouring water in a way that I had never experienced before.

Being the Jeddawi that I am, rain brings back so many memories, ignites so many fears. I won’t lie to you, panic started to creep down my spine, sweat drops started to form on my forehead, my fingers started to shake with an adrenaline rush. I managed to drive the car to the nearest parking spot, we all kept quiet for the next 30 minutes or so, terrified by what is going on, thinking of all the possible consequences; the heavy rain that came out of nowhere, decided to leave, as it came, with no warning. Suddenly, the warm sun rays forced its way through the clouds, the wind backed down, life came back to normal. I won’t exaggerate and say that the streets were dry in seconds, but if you did not witness the pour of rain few seconds ago, you would only thought that it was a light shower; no roads were closed, no water pools along the way, no floods, nothing! After 30 minutes of heavy rain, truly heavy rain, life was back to normal.

This all came to mind while I was driving around the city after the moderate rain we have seen in the past couple of days in Jeddah. For all of us living in the bride of the red sea, rain means chaos, means fear. I guess we all have the general symptoms of ombrophobia; the fear of rain or being rained on!

Since the last season of heavy rain we had been through three years ago, it is like nothing has changed. A- 30 minutes of rain crippled the city, stopped life in schools and workplaces, and aroused bad memories and a lot of fear in the hearts and minds of the city’s residents.

I am not sure the projects that we have all been witnessing under the name of rain drainage system have made any difference. Maybe we have not seen any serious catastrophes like the ones we have seen in the last couple of heavy rain seasons, and we pray to Allah to never witness such catastrophes again, but again, what we have seen so far is nothing compared to those rainy seasons. Despite the almost three year’s worth of work in the drainage project, the only effective way to drain water from the streets is to disperse trucks all over the city to do the job! Something that Jeddah municipality seems to be so proud of since it is using photos of these trucks to promote its activities through various social media platforms!

If we had learned anything from the previous seasons of rain, then it is that we are more careful now. With the slightest hint of cloudy skies, schools send children home and workplaces dismiss staff. In a way or another, it is a representation of fear and doubt in the city’s infrastructure to deal with the aftermath of rain.

How rain, the word that is usually associated with grace and prosperity, has turned into a bogeyman for Jeddawis is a sad tale to tell. A long history of poor infrastructure planning and project management participated in turning the coastal city, the one that is supposed to be celebrating water, into a city that fears water. Apparently, there is still a plenty of work to do, and drainage projects to complete. Maybe then, Jeddawis will meet rain with smiles and happiness, instead of tears and fears.

 
 
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