Thursday 7 June 2007

Oman: Gonu departs

At first light we could get some idea of the damage inflicted by Gonu. We have been very fortunate. Apart from the smell of soggy nappies coming from the piles of about thirty towels distributed around the house, we were in good shape. The sea was still very angry with cocoa-coloured water and large white foaming waves. The debris that littered the beach included a disproportionately large number of cars tyres.

The most noticeable damage was around the many building sites in the area. These are built out of wood and sheets of plywood to house labourers during construction. I noted a wonderful photo opportunity as I drove past three Indian labourers sitting on a bench drinking tea while the rest of their camp had been razed to the ground. I would have taken the shot but the batteries in my camera had died as my disaster preparations did not include camera charging. Nonetheless it was an image of stoic courage that will stay with me forever.

We drove toward the road which runs north from Udhaybah roundabout. The area was almost unrecognisable due to piles of sand, mud and debris dumped by the wadi which flows from the Grand Mosque parallel to this road. The road had collapsed entirely beneath the thin layer of tarmac. What was left continued north to the blue mosque on November 18th Street which was impassable due to the fast flowing wadi which had engulfed the roundabout. Judging by the sludge around the area, the water had been considerably higher.

Eventually we made it back to the highway and continued west in our quest to find an in-car mobile phone charger. Without electricity our phones were on their last legs and eventually I found one for 750bz. A bargain. On the return journey we saw that much of the airport was now a lake. We cartographers call this 'land very subject to inundation'.

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