Heavy rain in Alexandria floods streets and suspends schools

Ahram Online , Monday 22 Nov 2021

Heavy rain continued to batter the streets of Alexandria on Monday, causing traffic jams and forcing the northern governorate to announce a continued state of emergency.

Heavy rain in Alexandria flood streets on Monday. Al-Ahram

Alexandria Governor Mohamed El-Sherif announced the cancellation of classes for students of public and private schools and Al-Azhar institutes in the governorate on Tuesday.

The decision seeks to “enable executive authorities to drain all the unexpected heavy rainwater accumulations in the governorate,” a statement by the governorate cited El-Sherif as saying.

According to the governor, the accumulated rainwater has exceeded the capacity of sewage networks.

Teachers and other education staffers, however, will have to attend to make sure schools are prepared to receive students on the next day.

Night schools on Monday were also suspended.

After the downpour Alexandria witnessed on Monday, satellite images indicate an improvement in weather in the northern governorate, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) said in a statement.

Although the EMA had warned of probable mild to moderate rainfall on the northern coast, including Alexandria, officials say the amount of rain on Monday was surprising.

The governorate saw heavy rain that became torrential in most parts, Mahmoud Nafea, the head of the Alexandria Sanitary and Drainage Company, said.

The company’s equipment and emergency teams were deployed to drain water ponds.

Alexandria has been weathering the seasonal Al-Maknasa rainstorm since last week, forcing the governorate to declare a state of emergency.

Al-Maknasa (‘The Sweeper’) usually hits Egypt’s northern coast for a few days at the start of November with the onset of heavy rains and cold winds. It is one of the numerous seasonal storms that hit Alexandria in its rainy season that starts annually in late October and ends early February.

In recent years, authorities have been working on upgrading Alexandria’s aging rain drainage system, which has repeatedly failed to contain rainwater.

Alexandria was hit with disastrous rainstorms in 2015, 2019, and 2020, leaving several people dead and many more injured. The 2015 disaster resulted in the resignation of the Alexandrian governor at the time, Hani El-Messeiri.

The EMA said on Monday that it expects varying but less intense rain on parts of Delta in the coming days.

It also expects moderate weather in Greater Cairo, Lower Egypt, South Sinai, and southern Egypt between Tuesday and Sunday.

Furthermore, the north coast will be experiencing nice weather in the next few days.

However, cold weather is expected across the nation at night during the same period.

As Egypt mainly relies on the sewage network to drain rainwater rather than a separate rainwater drainage network, the government has, in recent years, begun the implementation of several national projects to modernise roads and the sewage system.

Last year, the parliament’s Housing Committee approved EGP 33 billion within the general budget for FY2020/21 for water and sanitation projects.

This was deemed the largest budget to be allocated for the sector in the history of the country.

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