As hail poured down like white rain in Al Ain, sparking viral videos across the UAE, all was not rosy for those living in the Garden City.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, a few residents shared their plight as cars and shops across the city suffered damage in what residents are calling a ‘never-seen-before hailstorm’.
Lijesh Premlal, an Indian who has resided in Al Ain for decades, was at home when the intense hailstorm began. “This was the heaviest hailstorm I have seen in years. I have lived here for 40 years, but I have never seen a storm of such scale.”
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For Lijesh, the scene that awaited him outside his home is what left him in dismay. The roof and windows of his car, along with many others, were left cracked by the impact of the hail. “Many cars have been destroyed. Not only that, but shop windows and sign boards have been damaged too.”
The 48-year-old who owns an interior contracting business has a comprehensive insurance plan. He has already gotten in touch with his insurance company who asked him to file a police report.
“I am going to hold off on that today though because I doubt I will be able to reach them considering how busy they must be today. I will try to get a claim tomorrow,” he said, adding that around the city, trees have been uprooted and buildings have sustained minor damages.
“Other than the hail, heavy rains led to many traffic lights malfunctioning in the city and roads being waterlogged.”
What brings peace to Lijesh is that as residents started getting warning emergency messages from authorities in the early hours of the morning, they were able to steer clear from venturing out and causing congestion on roads. “The alerts helped and people followed the rules.”
Mubarak Mustafa, the former president of the Indian Social Centre in Al Ain, who now works as a manager at an automobile company, said this hailstorm was like no other. “There is a wadi flowing behind my home, with balls of ice on top. I’ve lived here for 26 years and never seen something like this. It feels like I’m in a different part of the world.”
Unfortunately, his car, a Pajero, was also not spared by the ice. “My side mirrors and rear window have been damaged. Other cars on my street are in similar situations.”
According to him 500-600 cars were damaged in Al Ain’s Jahili alone, with 100-150 on his street.
In a video shared by him, furniture in his compound was seen broken due to the harshness of the storm.
As for insurance, Mubarak is not too worried. “I have the natural calamity claim in my insurance policy. Working in the automobile industry, I know how this works. Many of my customers have called me to help them so, tomorrow, we’ll head over to the police station to get our claims sorted out.”
Mubarak has seen municipality trucks clearing water from streets and taking swift action. “This is what I love about the UAE. Everyone works as a team. The drainage system has been blocked because of the large balls of ice and the police have taken swift action.”
Another Al Ain resident, Ruel, who originally hails from the Philippines and has been in the UAE since 15 years, had left his car out the night before the storm. He woke up to a broken rear view window, damaged side mirrors and dents in his car’s roof.
Buildings sustain damage
Agata, a Polish national residing in Al Ain with her two dogs, was in for a surprise when the hail acted as nature’s alarm and woke her up. “I heard banging on the roof and saw a white wall outside my house. It went on for quite some time. The sky was grey and dark.”
Luckily for her, she faced no damage to her car. But many of her acquaintances did. “Their rear view windows were shattered due to the weight of the hailstones.”
Here’s what Agata’s garden looked like after the storm.
In other pictures shared with her by her friends, the compound near Al Tawam hospital is seen considerably damaged by the hail. The paint on several walls were scraped off in multiple places due to the storm.
Living in Al Ain for 16 years, Sudanese expat Muna Elsiddig said the hailstorm was a new experience for her and her family. “We’ve never witnessed this kind of storm. It’s been seven years since we saw the first hailstorm and that one was very light. This was a unique experience.”
Her grandfather, who was in Tawam Hospital, was awake when the hail hit the city. In a video shared by her, the strong impact of the storm is seen, which caused damage to buildings in the area.
Watch the video here:
She too confirmed that several cars and stores are dealing with the aftermath of the damage. Her brother’s car outside the hospital was damaged too.
School buildings affected
Zahid Sarosh, CEO of a group of schools in AL Ain, moved to the city in 1980. Despite being away for around 12 years in between, he has never witnessed something of this scale.
“Everyone I know sustained some sort of damage to their vehicles or property. Both mine and my parents cars’ windshields were broken. I’ll call the police station in a few days for my insurance claim because I’m sure they are swamped with work right now.”
The schools Zahid heads were impacted heavily by the storm. “Students observed remote learning today. But we have reached out to the authorities for permission to continue remote learning for at least two more days. It would be quite impossible for us to hold classes in this condition.”
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