Monday, December 7, 2009

Jeddah Flood Volunteers

(Photos are used with permission from my friend Rami.)
Our prayers and thoughts are with those who lost family in the Jeddah flood. Some of the oldest, and most densely populated areas of Jeddah, a city of more than 3.4 million people, were underwater after unusually heavy rains (by Saudi Arabia standards). The city's infrastructure was overwhelmed and hundreds of people died. Some of the KUAST students also have family in Jeddah who were affected by the flood waters.

This crisis was and is terrible, but Jeddawis responded generously by giving their food and time to relieve the poor people who are suffering from the flood.

Last Wednesday, "Friends of Jeddah," a Saudi NGO, organized more than 500 volunteers to unload, sort, and repackage donated food boxes at a warehouse in North Jedddah to be distributed amongst the people who lost property and loved ones in the flood. One volunteer estimated that they sent out at least 10,000 packages that day, each one holding one week's food supply for one person. Four KAUST students joined the Saudi volunteers on Wednesday.

According to my friend Marc, the relief effort was efficient and well organized. "It was neat to see so many Saudis willing to lend a hand," he said.
The official death toll is just 116, according to today's AFP article, but a Jeddawi friend said she doesn't trust the official number and fears that the deaths total many times more. One hospital was said to have more than 400 people declared dead, and other unofficial estimates put the number easily above 1,000. The King has promised significant aid and compensation for families who lost loved ones, a generous gesture which further implies that government mismanagement is at least partially involved. Many Saudis and blame poor infrastructure on local government's negligence and misuse of public funds.

International attention was brought to this crisis because Hajj was happening in the same week. Some are hopeful that this extra scrutiny will move officials to fix Jeddah's infrastructure problems for good.


  1. It is indeed a kind gesture whon by you and your collegues to help the Jiddawis, More grease to ur elbows!

  2. Yes … these groups of Jeddah young men and women have been remarkably successful in their sincere efforts to help those in need. Some even argue that their composure and sense of organization were faster than most of the official agencies.
    I believe they should be somehow honored by the government for their outstanding and noble efforts.

  3. thank you Nathan for giving a hand. I am currently doing my masters in Canada. I wish i was able to help my people & my country.