Helping thousands stranded by widespread flooding

Palestine (West Bank/Gaza)

December 16, 2013

Share this story:
  • linkedin
  • A lack of electricity and functioning infrastructure left Gaza ill-prepared to handle heavy rains from winter storm Alexa last week. Flooding is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation. Photo: Mercy Corps
  • It will take days for the flood waters to subside, creating the risk of water-borne disease spreading from overflowing sewage. Photo: Mercy Corps
  • Thousands of families, who were already struggling to meet their basic needs, have been forced to flee to temporary evacuation centers. Photo: Mercy Corps
  • "The flood was like sudden sea waves. Now I spent sleepless nights just thinking what my home will look like," said Suzan Nasser Al Daya, a 35-year-old mother of eight. Photo: Mercy Corps
  • "My family and I walked the streets in the chilly cold searching for shelter... This is the meaning of humiliiation. We wish that people could help us with clothes, mats, money, equipment, anything that could help," said Nedal Mohammed Halawa, a 25-year-old father of seven. Photo: Mercy Corps
  • Mercy Corps distributed blankets, children's jackets, mattresses and other supplies to 800 families who were displaced by the floods. Photo: Mercy Corps
  • Salma, 9, and Noor, 5, wear the new coats they received. "They were so happy that they refused to take them off when they went to sleep," their mother said. Photo: Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps launched an emergency response over the weekend to help victims of flooding and severe winter weather in Gaza.

A state of emergency has been declared and approximately 10,000 people were forced to evacuate to temporary shelters or relatives' homes. Many more are stranded in damaged homes or displaced without safe coverage from the elements.

We're providing 800 families in the worst affected areas with plastic sheeting for protection from continued rains, warm jackets for children, and supplies including blankets, mattresses, rechargeable lanterns and hygiene kits. We also distributed 400 food packages to families who had not yet received assistance. Scroll through the photos above to see some of the people we've reached.

The winter storm Alexa — one of the worst in recent decades — hit last Wednesday with over four days of heavy rains, strong winds and frigid temperatures. Flooding quickly overtook many parts of the Gaza Strip, washing away possessions, killing livestock and damaging thousands of homes.

Families were already struggling with an acute fuel and energy shortage, which forced the sporadic shutdown of the only main generator and has limited electricity to as little as three hours a day. Waste treatment facilities have been partially non-operational for over a month.

Without a proper storm drainage system or the power to operate pumps, water rose rapidly and spread throughout wide swaths of northern Gaza, including Gaza City. Waste-filled storm water ponds overflowed, sending raw sewage into the flooding.

It will take days for the waters to subside and allow the displaced to return to their homes. Our team will continue assessing needs, including those for clean drinking water and sanitation, and stay in contact with the families we've reached to provide additional assistance.