Muscat – Cyclone Shaheen, which battered Oman last week, had claimed the lives of 13 people till Saturday after a missing person was found dead on the day. Search operations are continuing for two others missing.
The country has united in the face of adversity with massive mobilisation of volunteer efforts to serve the people in areas in the Batinah region affected by Shaheen.
While the government was quick to step in to provide relief and aid to victims, citizens and residents rallied together and visited the affected areas on Friday and Saturday in thousands with truckloads of essentials as well as ready to assist in cleaning and rehabilitation services.
‘Epic’ community response
The Ministry of Social Development’s Relief and Shelter Sector expressed its appreciation of the community for the donations made in support of flood victims. Hamoud bin Muhammad al Mantheri, coordinator of the Relief and Shelter Sector, said that considering the first lot of relief material was mostly food items, “the next stage requires diversity in donations, such as electrical appliances, furniture, construction tools, health materials and school supplies”.
Sheikh Ishaq bin Salem al Rawahi, Wali of Khabourah, described the support from the community as ‘epic’, adding that large numbers of volunteers flocked to the wilayat from all over the sultanate to support the efforts made by government agencies.
Government entities, private sector companies and individuals came together to do their bit to help throughout the week following the cyclone.
“Our operations will not stop until we make sure everyone is safe. We will work hard to ensure everyone affected is in good hands,” said Maj Gen Abdullah bin Ali al Harthi, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Customs for Operations, ROP.
RO1,000 for each damaged homes
On Thursday, the Ministerial Committee formed to assess damages due to Shaheen decided to disburse an initial emergency aid of RO1,000 for each home destroyed by the cyclone, the National Committee for Emergency Management (NCEM) reported.
The Ministerial Committee assessed damages caused by Shaheen and appreciated the efforts undertaken to repair roads and open service roads to facilitate movement and speed up the restoration of basic services.
Abdullah al Naamani, who was one of thousands who volunteered to drive aid to the Batinah region, said, “This is the least we can do for our country and our people. We have to unite not only in good times but in crises and I am glad to see many people who have come forward as individuals, too. Our focus is finding places that are far to reach for most people and deliver food items and drinking water.”
Restoring utility services
The utility services sector restored telecommunications in the affected areas by providing mobile units and connecting generators to some stations. All telecommunications companies are working on finding alternative solutions to enable all subscribers to use telecommunications services.
The operating company restored water supplies to all the affected areas and, in cooperation with the armed forces, provided 160 tankers to transport water to the homes of affected citizens.
The Ministry of Social Development confirmed that it is continuing to complete an inventory of the damage suffered by families in the affected villages, and that urgent aid and accommodation will be provided to them until their situation is addressed.
Within the framework of the public health sector, several cleaning campaigns have been implemented to remove dead animals. Work is underway to drain stagnant water and ensure no disease spreads from these.
The Ministerial Committee stressed on the importance of monitoring any further potential impact and addressing these immediately, and the urgency to limit the impact on the fisheries and agricultural sectors.
H E Sultan Salim al Habsi, Minister of Finance and chairman of the committee, stressed on the importance of coordination with the Relief and Shelter Sector to support voluntary operations through the offices of governors, walis and development committees in the wilayats. Individual and institutional financial support initiatives will be directed through bank accounts of the Oman Charitable Organization.
The organisation and a number of charities and volunteer teams announced the opening of a donation portal. Various other initiatives have also announced to help with relief and clean-up operations. This is in addition to a number of corporates that announced donations for the benefit of those affected.