Some villages in Aswan have been hit hard by the storm
Three people died and 503 were injured after sandstorms and heavy rains hit Aswan and the nearby town of Kom Ombo on the evening of November 12, driving scorpions and snakes from their usual habitats in Aswan and the surrounding villages. The rains, which continued the next day, caused mud brick houses to collapse, injuring 150 more people in addition to those bitten by poisonous creatures.
The rains have caused flooding in the streets and led to blackouts and cut off parts of the water supply, said Adel Sharshar, head of the Aswan city council. Dusty winds compounded the problem by uprooting trees and knocking over electricity pylons.
Aswan and many surrounding villages spent a night without water or electricity, but supplies gradually resumed on November 13.
Many roads in the area have been closed to prevent accidents, although Sharshar says they are slowly being reopened to traffic. Schools were also temporarily closed due to the weather.
Shaker Abul-Maati, professor of climate and head of the meteorology department at the Central Agriculture Laboratory, told Al-Ahram Weekly that heavy rains in Aswan, one of the driest cities in the world, were a symptom of the global climate change, and predicted that unusual weather events would increase in number.
Climate change, Abul-Maati said, is causing average temperatures to rise, snow cover melting, and desertification and drought punctuated by torrential rains.
Aswan, he said, experienced a similar deluge in January 2010 when high winds knocked down high-voltage electricity pylons causing blackouts in the governorate and flash floods destroyed homes. As it gets hotter and drier due to global warming, such extreme weather events will become more common in Egypt.
“The weather was horrible. Thank goodness I was on my way home when the rain started. Many of my neighbors have seen their cars crushed by uprooted trees, ”said Mervat Wahish, a resident of Aswan.
Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, said that in anticipation of extreme weather events “the ministry allocated 2,119 ambulances and 48 all-terrain vehicles to the most threatened governorates, as well as 11 providing emergency medical care to those affected by the floods.
Abdel-Ghaffar said emergency warnings in the region remained at their highest level and emergency teams made up of doctors, technicians and nurses had been dispatched to the worst affected areas.
“The ministry has set up an emergency hotline. Aswan governorate currently has 3,350 doses of scorpion venom, and hospitals in affected governorates have sufficient supplies of blood and blood products. “
Ahmed Abdel-Motagli, head of the Directorate of Social Solidarity in Aswan, said the Ministry of Social Solidarity had already calculated the number of tents, blankets, mattresses and food that those most affected by the floods needed.
“Social Solidarity Minister Nevine Al-Qabbaj also ordered residential buildings damaged by the rains to be repaired and residents whose homes were completely destroyed receive alternative accommodation in coordination with the governorate. “
* A print version of this article appears in the November 18, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly