Residents stranded as torrential rains flood roads, cut off neighborhoods

18,000 people in Lod find neighborhood accessible only by train; several people rescued from vehicles trapped in water; deluge forecast to continue till afternoon

Screen capture from video of a person kayaking down a flooded street in Petah Tikva, January 16, 2022. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of a person kayaking down a flooded street in Petah Tikva, January 16, 2022. (Twitter)

Heavy storms that have hit Israel since Friday resulted in several areas flooded on Sunday, with some people requiring rescue from stranded vehicles and an entire neighborhood in Lod cut off by water.

The downpour was expected to continue until later in the afternoon.

The Ganei Aviv neighborhood in Lod, home to some 18,000 people, was cut off by flooding and the municipality warned residents that the only way in and out of the area was by train.

Orit Navo, a resident of the Lod neighborhood told the Kan public broadcaster that public life had come to a halt.

“Buses can’t enter, health clinics aren’t operating and the coronavirus testing center isn’t open,” she said, blaming the manner in which the neighborhood had been constructed, saying it had been left vulnerable to flooding.

Streets were also flooded in Yavne, Netanya, and Petah Tikva, where a person was filmed paddling down a road in a kayak. A woman and baby in the city were rescued from a car after they became trapped.

The Petah Tikva municipality said in a statement that flooding was centered on a road near an open area and that though it had tried to prepare for the rain by placing blocks to prevent water flooding into neighborhoods, one of the obstacles had apparently been moved by an unauthorized person.

“We will act to renew the barriers that prevent flow into the Amisha neighborhood,” the statement said.

Elsewhere in the country, a man and a girl were rescued from a car in Kafr Qasim after their vehicle became trapped in a flooded road, the Ynet website reported.

Video and images of the flooding were shared on social media

A picture taken in Lod showed several vehicles caught in a flooded road.

There was also flooding in Kafr ‘Aqab, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, where video showed cars submerged.

According to the Israel Meteorological Service over the previous 24 hours there was 48.8 mm of rain in Jerusalem, 47.8 mm in Tel Aviv 47.8, and 20.2 mm in Haifa.

The Sea of Galilee, the country’s largest freshwater lake, rose five centimeters over the weekend according to the Kinneret Cities Association, a public corporation that manages beaches around the lake.

On Mount Hermon, the highest point in the country, ten centimeters of snow fell at the lower levels while on the summit 25 centimeters of snow gathered. Due to the weather, the site’s ski center was closed.

Temperatures dropped Sunday to lower than the average for the season on as rain continued to fall from the north all the way down to the desert Negev region in the south. More flooding was expected in low-lying coastal areas while flashfloods were expected in the Judean Desert and in run-off areas around the Dead Sea area.

Flash floods often prove to be deadly in Israel, with the south of the country particularly vulnerable to sudden rushes of water.

Temperatures in the capital Jerusalem were expected to be around 7 C, in Tel Aviv 14, Haifa and Beersheba 11, Safed, 6.

In late June, the state comptroller issued a stinging report (in Hebrew) on flood control measures — or the lack thereof — taken by four local authorities from March to October 2020.

It focused on Nahariya in the north, where flooding in January 2020 inundated large parts of the city center and killed one person, Ashkelon in the south, the central town of Kfar Saba, and Jisr az-Zarqa, a crowded Arab hamlet on the coast south of Haifa. The report devoted particular attention to the first two, which were hit especially hard by flooding in the winter of 2019-2020.

Seven people lost their lives to flooding during torrential rains over several weeks in late December 2019 and early January 2020, particularly near the coast. Among the dead were two young people who drowned in a flooded elevator in a Tel Aviv apartment building.

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