Al Qua'a: It was late on Saturday as everyone slept that gale force winds and heavy rains hit Al Qua'a — a border town 130 kilometres from Al Ain — destroying homes.
The roofs of homes blew away and people panicked as they tried to flee flying debris and collapsing walls. The thunder was deafening and flashes of lightning lasted hours, adding to the panic, residents said.
"It was a horrible night and many people got injured when the ferocious winds and rain battered our homes," said Moa'ad Salem Al Junaibi.
Sitting on a damp and dusty rug in a tent next to his destroyed home, he said he and his family were asleep when the storm hit. The deluge has made more than 200 families homeless.
Many are now either living with their friends and relatives in partially damaged houses or in tents provided by the Red Crescent Authority (RCA).
Al Junaibi said his younger sister was injured when a flying metal sheet hit her leg. She was later treated at a nearby clinic and was now helping her family to collect whatever they could from their damaged home.
"I have seen several other injured people but with the grace of Allah nobody died or was seriously injured," he said.
"We had no place to sleep that night," said Mohammad Saif, another resident.
"I sent my children and the women to seek shelter at a nearby mosque to spend the rest of the night," he said.
When the rain stopped in the morning, Red Crescent workers brought tents and food for families.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the Red Crescent Authority, ordered an immediate relief effort, asking the Al Ain branch of the authority to mobilise its resources.
Saif said Shaikh Hamdan and the RCA had taken prompt action.
"We hope we can settle down again in our homes," he added.
Saeed Hareb, another victim of the storms, said he and his brother had been living in a cluster of homes with their family, but were now spending their nights in temporary shelters along with 17 other family members after all the houses were destroyed.
Shoukat Mayyar, a municipality worker in the area, said this was the second time the area had been hit by strong winds and thunderstorms.
Several years ago, a storm caused similar destruction following which Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan had ordered construction of villas for the affected. More than 400 new villas were constructed, he said. Al Qua'a is close to the UAE-Omani border.
Mayyar said Al Qua'a Municipality had been conducting a clean-up operation in the area, helping residents get rid of the debris.
Many have begun building make-shift homes.