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16 years on, memories of Cyclone Gonu still haunt many

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Even though 16 years have passed, memories of the devastation caused by Cyclone Gonu when it hit and drastically affected Oman in June 2007 have not faded for those who went through the struggles.

It was June 6, 2007, when the powerful Gonu hit Oman. It is believed to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula since 1945, and what ensued was hardships and struggle for many people in Oman when dwellings got flooded, streets got washed away, and infrastructure collapsed.

Remembering those days, the pain wells up in their eyes every time those who went through the agony relive those memories. "Cyclone Gonu can never be forgotten. I remember spending three days without communication, water and electricity. The main road leading to Al Amerat got washed away, and we had no option but to just sit and wait," Fuad al Farsi, an Amerat resident, said.

"We survived with the little we had, and procuring just water was an adventure. Many of the overhead water tanks flew off the roof; hence there was no way of getting water. It was like we were in a war situation," Al Farsi added.

Like Al Farsi, Amer al Touqi also said life was difficult. "Somehow, after a day without water and electricity, we just decided to drive from Al Amerat to Wadi Adai. It took us eight hours. We wanted to go to Ghubra to seek refuge at my brother's house, but the journey, which normally takes 20 minutes, took eight hours," he said.

Oman suffered severe power outages and water shortages as crews and volunteers worked to clean up and repair the damage after the cyclone inundated the capital with floodwater and slush.

The storm left wide swathes of Muscat underwater, with floodwaters racing out of the mountains behind the city and demolishing homes and roads and sweeping away vehicles.

Qurum residents were also badly affected. The whole of Qurum near CCC was filled with water. "My family and I had to climb to the top of my building because the water was rising with each passing minute. We were lucky as an ROP helicopter came to rescue us. Our house was filled with water, and we had to change all my furniture later," Zaher Naser, who was then living in Qurum, said.

Muscat and the eastern city of Sur were hit by severe water shortages amid the country's usual high heat and humidity.

Residents scoured supermarkets for bottled water and also siphoned drinking water from swimming pools, as municipal authorities struggled to provide water supply by tankers.

Despite how tenuous the state of affairs was, life returned to normality within a short time, thanks to the authorities who worked day and night.


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