Friday, December 27, 2013

Powerful storm and power shortages fill Gaza with waste water

IRIN: Hamdi Al Shami, 54, woke up in the highly populated Zeitoun area of Gaza City, on 11 December, to find raw sewage flowing down his street at a height of more than 2m. It was just one of several sewage overflows to occur in his neighbourhood over the last five weeks.

On 13 November, more than 35,000 cubic metres of raw sewage overflowed when the Zeitoun pumping station failed, affecting 3,000 nearby residents. Just as the mess was being cleaned up, the area was again inundated - this time with approximately twice as much waste - when heavy rains fell over the Gaza Strip between 11 and 15 December. In Gaza City, one of the worst-hit areas, the municipality estimated that hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of sewage and rainwater overflowed from pumping stations and manholes, flooding streets and homes.

“It was horrible. We lost many things when the sewage came from everywhere around us - the doors, manholes and sinks. This cannot be forgotten,” said Al Shami, speaking about November’s flooding.

That flooding was attributed to a combination of factors: power outages disrupting the city’s sewage pumps and a shortage in capacity, spare parts and facilities because of a seven-year blockade against Gaza. At the time, residents were told that a rapidly established power connection to the Israeli grid would prevent future problems. But with the recent rainfall, the situation in Al Shami’s neighbourhood has only worsened. He was stranded amid water and sewage for days....

Destruction in Gaza after Israeli bombardment, part of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, photo by Scott Bobb, Voice of America 

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