Lessons to be learned from Mekunu

SALALAH, May 29 – Ten thousand evacuations, so many lives saved, loss of life and property minimised; defence, telecom, electricity and water operators did their best to maintain all these services even during the cyclone. There were many who worked as silent workers. The job done was praiseworthy. Hats off to everyone involved. This is the time to document the lessons we learnt from natural calamities including the Mekunu. Mekunu will remain in the minds of people who faced this cyclone for several years. “Living the gravity of the situation and watching them on videos and photos circulated through social media are two different things. We faced the trauma and know what it is,” said Ahmed Shanfari a resident of Salalah.
He felt like sharing the lessons the country and residents should learn, “as we don’t know about another natural calamity and when that knocks we should not look for searching the measures we should have learnt and applied. “As a common citizen I just want to suggest that I see many houses built very close to wadis. Our previous experience in 2002 in Salalah and 2006 in Muscat has proved this beyond doubt that such houses are not sustainable as they are not designed to face calamities of this magnitude. The authorities should resist giving permission to allow such houses on such location,” said Ahmed.
A public service employee, Ahmed put stress on sharing of knowledge among the countries which are hit by such cyclones, as floods are not going to stop and somewhere it will hit. “It is better thus to take part in inter-country natural calamity drills to share knowledge and avoid waste of time and energy in developing something which has already been developed somewhere.”
John, a Philippines citizen, called for clarity in communication to counter the rumour mongers on social media. “My learning from this cyclone is that all media should have maximum access to information to counter the rumour mongers. Because by the time you think of taking action against them, the damage is done. During cyclone we have to act during the shortest possible time and people start acting based on first information they get.”
He, however, appreciated the communication this time through SMS and official social media channels.
Commenting on a lesson learnt from the past, Dr Akram Ali, who is a geo scientist, said: “The Salalah dam is one great example. It is helpful in saving many areas of the city from flooding.”
Dr Sergey Dodretsov, Director at the Centre of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology, Sultan Qaboos University, was all praise for the lessons learnt from the cyclone Gonu that hit Muscat in 2007. He was witness to Gonu Cyclone that hit Muscat in 2007 and the Mekunu in Salalah this time.
“The authorities have learnt a lot from past because I see the functionaries far more prepared and their communication with the residents was quite impressive. They kept on informing the residents about the ensuing dangers and broadcast the right advice. They even blocked the danger prone roads along the overflowing wadis. They were very alert this time and were taking no chance in evacuating people from flood prone areas.”

Kaushalendra Singh