LIFE AFTER THE STORM

Social media have all the proof that if there is anything that can bring the people of Oman — expats or nationals alike —, it’s harrowing tales of tragedy and how to overcome it. In the course of three days, Cyclone Mekunu, a powerful tropical cyclone destroyed parts of Socotra, Eastern Yemen and Southern Oman. Since Cyclone Gonu in 2007, this is one of the strongest cyclones to hit the Sultanate and the first to affect the Southern part of the country. Developing near an area of low pressure in the northwest of Maldives, the storm gradually intensified as it reached its peak right before making landfall.
Up until a few hours before the cyclone hit, the weather was pleasant and the air was calm, a take on the saying — the calm before a storm. As midnight struck on Friday, the cyclone reached its pinnacle as it hit Oman’s Dhofar and Al Wusta regions, the storm intensified to a category two cyclone. Within minutes, the tranquillity of the atmosphere changed as winds lashed violently, rain poured without control and chaos broke loose. Cyclone Mekunu not only caused the wind and rain to wreak havoc, but lead to flash floods that tore away whole roads and submerged main roads and homes of many leaving people without shelter or roads in Oman’s third largest city — Salalah.
Battering the coast with rain, fast moving winds and strong waves, the underpasses turned into lakes and beaches were littered with foam and debris collected from the churning Arabian Sea. Strong winds gusting tore away roofing and knocked over street lights and the heavy rainfall supercharged the nearby famously known waterfall of Wadi Darbat.
Following the heavy rainstorms brought in by Cyclone Mekunu, clearing operations began immediately after as the storm triggered flash floods, requiring the shutting down of the Salalah International Airport and knocked down powerlines in many parts of the affected regions.
Authorities in the region provided the residents of the regions with regular updates and warnings. Civil defence provided the people constant support and provided amenities ensuring that people could access basic necessities through the turmoil and chaos of this disastrous natural calamity. With constant warnings being sent out from days prior to the event, people were given time to evacuate, collect resources and able to find safe ground.
The unsung heroes including thousands of emergency service men and responders stood fearlessly in the midst of the cyclone ensuring minimum damage and maximum safety including rescue efforts whenever needed.
These included the uniformed officers from the Royal Oman Police, who risked their lives as they barricaded risky areas along with the rescue teams from the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance. Doctors and paramedics keeping aside their personal safety, stayed up through the night to treat the wounded and provided support to the traumatised.
Oman in the midst of this frenzy was sure to pool all of their emergency and security services ensuring that they protect its people, making sure that they are looked after during these troubling times.
With the efforts of the authorities including the immense efforts by PACDA, it was the active and collective efforts of the people of the affected regions along with the support pouring in from the neighbouring regions of the Sultanate showed the strength of Oman’s unity and with their continued support, the Dhofar and Al Wusta region continues its efforts as the storm passes, slowing putting the pieces together to rebuild, recuperate and restart their regular lives. We scoured hundreds of social media accounts to see the destruction caused by Mekunu. Amidst all the ruins, these are the some of the stunning shots we thought most notable to be seen by everyone.

TITASH CHAKRABORTY