Oman: Final report on flood damage this week

Authorities tasked with surveying residential properties damaged in the recent cyclone hope to present the final report of their findings to the government before the end of this week. An estimated 51,000 residential units have so far been surveyed during a roughly month-long effort by the Ministry of National Economy to assess the extent of damage inflicted by tropical cyclone Gonu on private homes. Survey teams are now covering the few remaining areas in the Sharqiyah region, as well as those homes that were found shut when they made the rounds of areas hit by the storm.

"We hope to finalise the report on our survey for presentation to the government before the end of this week," said Ali Mahboob Hassan, Director-General of Social Statistics, Ministry of National Economy. "Our coverage of the flood-affected areas is almost complete, and right now we are following up on homes that our survey teams found locked when they first visited these places."

Covering Omanis and expatriates alike, the survey aims to generate a record of the destruction caused by the storm to private property, and includes damage to homes, furniture, appliances, personal effects, electrical fittings, clothes, and so on. Also covered are private cars, as well as motor-school instruction vehicles, small water tankers and LPG cylinder distribution vehicles. In addition, flood damage caused to the agricultural, farm and livestock holdings of private households is inventoried as well.

Many of the homes being presently covered stem from phone calls made to the ministry's hotline by people who had temporarily shifted residence from the cyclone-affected areas. "Every call has been followed up with a personal visit by our team. In the case of homes that were found locked, our staff have left behind messages urging the owner or tenant to contact us on the hotline."

In addition, survey teams have also been attending to calls received from some households in areas not directly impacted by the storm. These calls mainly come from coastal and low-lying neighbourhoods in Muttrah, Al Wadi Al Kabir and Al Bustan. Launching the exercise in Muscat Governorate on June 13, survey teams have since also covered the Wilayats of Sur, Jaalan Bani Bu Ali Dima wa'Tayeen and Wadi Bani Khalid. Coverage of Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan - the last remaining area to be surveyed - will commence today, said Ali Mahboob.

Of the roughly 51,000 households surveyed in flood-affected areas of Muscat Governorate (including Al Amerat and Qurayat wilayats) and Sharqiyah region, only about 40 per cent are believed to have suffered some damage in the cyclone. Nevertheless, a full survey of the affected areas was necessary in order to ensure an accurate assessment of the flood damage, it is pointed out.

Officials have also stressed that the survey only covers residential properties in areas identified as having suffered from Gonu's wrath. Thus, for example, homes that may have encountered some water seepage on account of, say, leaking roofs or windows that were not sealed tight, do not come under the purview of the survey. Calling the hotline to report such frivolous cases only adds to the burden of the already hard-pressed survey team, they lament.

The hotline (80070099) will still be functional till the end of this week, albeit only during normal working hours (8 am to 2.30 pm). Calls to the hotline have fallen sharply from the numerous per day at the start of the survey, to just a handful, off late, attesting to thoroughness and comprehensiveness of the survey, noted Ali Mahboob, who helped conceive and oversee the entire exercise.