Saturday, January 14

"Blessed Rains" - Flooded Houses & Very Wet New Homeless

In Hebrew they 're called "blessed rains - "gishmey b'racha", but after more than a week of them, i tend to call them "gishmey k'lala", cursed rains.
Indeed, there has been an ongoing water shortage for many years now, due to (mostly industrial and agricultural) abuse of that very scarce resource in the Middle East: clean water.
There isn't much of it to begin with, in this areas of the world: The semi-arrid zone, confronted with extended periods of drought. But whatever there is, is quickly and seriously polluted by the industrial waste "produced" by Israel's ever more privatised and globalised industrial giants. In addition, there is over-use, which has lead to brine entering sweet water in the coastal aquifer, thereby rendering it partially useless.
Over the years we have used (and are still doing so) far more water than mother nature holds in stock for us. Our use of sweet water has been out of balance for a long time now.
On the other hand, it does rain, occasionally. And it has been raining in all the coastal plain for over a week now.
Not your gentle winter rains, but floods, a modern Noah worthy: Grey strom clouds, huge amounts of rain coming down in short time spans, dramatic weather, hailstorms fit for staying at home with hot chocolate-milk, under a blanket in a well warmed room (assuming you to have one and being able to pay for heating it, something not quite natural and normal for too many Jaffa inhabitants) with a good book or listening to music.

Good swimming skills are a must if you want to cross the street. Yefet is good for a multi-directional shower: rain from above and muddy rainwater wetting the pedestrian from all sides, whenever a "Dan" bus passes at break-neck speed through the huge fast flowing rivers of what once was , well Yefet street paving.
Jaffa is simply flooded, just like it is every year, only worse, this time.

Given the lack of water, it is a pity the rain water is not collected ofcourse, and the municipality has been doing some infrastructure work, creating a drainage channel in south Jaffa, yet obviously it has not been enough.
True, the rain is strong, yet should this come as a surprise? Why are we "surprised" every year? A few years ago a child drowned in its flooded home not far from here, in the "Pardes Daka" neighborhood. Pardes Daka, in spite of its beautiful name is not a paradise, and the orange trees that once used to grow there, have long since made way for shacks and huts in which very poor people live.
Every year, including this year, homes in south Tel Aviv and Jaffa are flooded, their inhabitants made homeless, their private possessions and furniture made worthless.
But ofcourse, who cares, they are poor people. Not the wealthy ones from North Tel Aviv, where the infrastructure of drainage channels are properly planned and maintained.
Houses in the same area, many of them the same houses, are floooded every year.

"So why don't the people move out?" you ask?. Well, obviously, they would, if they only could....
They have no alternative, as they are too poor and the houses are their only possession, which have become worthless exactly because of the flooding. Thus they are not bale to sell their homes and move elsewhere... (Would you buy a house, knowing it is flooded every winter?).

The houses in Tel Aviv and Jaffa are built on sand. The huge amounts of water move the sand and some of the houses become unstable. Almost every year houses collapse. Yesterday, in south Tel Aviv, in Kiriyat Shalom a 3-story building started collapsing. The people were moved out with the help of the fire brigade and the Tel Aviv Municipal spokesman informed the press they would provide the families with alternative housing for 7 days! How grand. And where shall they go afterwards?
What alternatives do they have? Another few families homeless in another 7 days.

Poor people usually do not have insurance, as they cannot afford to pay the high premiums demanded by the insurance companies for insuring the old houses. They need their small incomes to pay for food, clothing, school fees and study books for their children, electricity to heat at least one room in the house for at least a few hours every day.

My heart goes out to these newly homeless people.

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