Vehicles are still submerged in water one week after heavy rain at Dubai Investment Park. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Drainage systems that work properly should be installed to ensure the massive March 9 flooding in Jebel Ali and other freehold communities won’t happen again, residents said.

A month after torrential rain turned Jebel Ali and neighbouring areas into a virtual waterworld, residents said they still get worried whenever rain or thunderstorms is forecast.

The UAE is well on its way to summer but rain is still being forecast. With climate change and rain enhancement programmes of the UAE, parts of the country prone to waterlogging need to prepare in advance.

“If there’s a thunderstorm, we’re really worried. We’ve always loved to have rain. But if they say ‘thunderstorm’, the fear is there already,” Nilucia De Silva, a Jebel Ali Village resident, told Gulf News during a visit.

Floodwaters destroyed De Silva’s backyard and rear wall on March 9.

“The garden just filled up from the hill because it’s the lowest level in the house. The wall collapsed and the water gushed and damaged the house next to us,” Nilucia said.

A month later, the wall is still to be repaired.

“They removed the debris and sorted out the blocks from the collapsed wall to sort out which can be reused,” Ranil, Nilucia’s husband, told Gulf News on Tuesday. “They have yet to commence any reconstruction work.”

The De Silvas are not alone. Scores more villas were affected, with at least three were rendered uninhabitable back then.

Gulf News randomly surveyed Jebel Ali Village, one of the oldest communities built in 1977, and found that the hilly community is prone to flooding due to the topography of the area.

Some villas were constructed 3ft to 6ft below road level, making it a catchment basin for floodwater coming from the high points of Jebel Ali.

“There is no drainage system where the water can go because this is an old community. They were not prepared for the rain,” Nilucia said.

Another resident said: “We’re lucky we’re on the higher parts of the village. Those in low-lying areas are unfortunate; they need a good drainage system.”

When contacted, a spokesperson from Nakheel told Gulf News: “Like many other communities across Dubai, Jebel Ali Village suffered extensive damage following last month’s severe weather. We have worked tirelessly on getting the community back to normal since the storms hit, prioritising the most crucial tasks.”

The spokesperson said repairs to individual villas are now under way, and the management has “brought in an additional contractor to speed up the process”. However, no information was available on the construction of drainage systems in the neighbourhood.

The heavy downpour on March 9 inundated other neighbourhoods as well such as road networks in The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, the Green Community, Dubai Investment Park (DIP) and Remraam.

Remraam resident Jhasmine Cipriano, a teaching assistant, said water tankers pumped out flood waters within two days after the rain in March. But flood mitigation systems should be in place, she said. “When rain is forecast, I wake up early to check if our roads are flooded again,” Cipriano told Gulf News. “Maybe when they designed the community, they did not think that the UAE can have a rainy season, too.”

A statement from Dubai Properties sent to Gulf News said Dubai Properties, Ejadah and Taziz’s senior Health Safety and Environment personnel were swiftly stationed on location when torrential rain caused flash flooding.

“Tankers were promptly dispatched to manually extract the excess water and the community’s pumps were put to use to support the tankers. All the manholes were manually opened to remove the water from the main roads leading to the community,” the statement read.

But like Nakheel, no answers were given on what Remraam’s management plans to do to prevent possible flooding in the future.

Gulf News repeatedly contacted the Green Community for comment but no official was available at press time.