WATCH: Flash floods wreak havoc in Ashkelon

Heavy rains leave hundreds stranded in coastal city; central streets closed after road collapses

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

Residents of the southern coastal city of Ashkelon faced a heavy downpour Tuesday as a brief but intense winter storm swept the area, closing major roads and flooding whole neighborhoods.

Hundreds of people were left stranded as emergency services struggled to deal with the damage caused by the unexpected deluge. Fire and police crews were working to rescue stranded drivers as high water levels trapped people in their cars.

No injuries were reported as a result of the flooding but the Magen David Adom ambulance service was put on high alert in and around Ashkelon.

Police closed the entrance to the coastal city after part of the main road collapsed, opening up a gaping hole and rendering the route unusable. Hundreds of power outages were also reported.

The flooding reached the city’s Barzilai Medical Center, which announced it was stopping all nonessential services and closing its outpatient wards.

The municipality opened an emergency situation room with representatives of the police, fire and medical services as well as the national water authority.

An estimated 30 centimeters of rain fell in the city in the space of just three hours, totaling nearly half of Ashkelon’s average annual precipitation.

The Israel Meteorological Service put out flash flood warnings for the northern Negev, advising drivers to avoid susceptible roads.

Two weeks ago the central cities of Herzliya, Ra’anana and Kfar Saba faced similar floods after heavy rains hit the region.

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