Jewishupdates's Blog

January 19, 2010

Israel: Storm Claims Lives and Causes Significant Damage

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 1:04 pm

Israel: Storm Claims Lives and Causes Significant Damage

Monday’s badly-needed rains were indeed significant, accompanied by high winds and at times, and the rainfall pounded with an intensity not seen for many years.

For three friends, the day was going to be an outing, a day of fun, but one of the trio, Sarah Fogel A”H, 55, from Moshav Orot in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council, it ended in death. The vehicle she was driving in was washed away in a flash flood in Nachal Aravah. Yoram Hochman, 55, from Moshav Nir Banim, was washed away and disappeared. His brother Alex was rescued by the IAF’s 669 airborne rescue unit. 669 soldiers rescued over 12 flood victims during the day. A number of 669 rescues were reported on Tuesday morning as well.

Later in the day, fragments of the battered vehicle were found and this prompted a large number of police, rescue personnel and volunteers to begin searching for Yoram. A body was washed up on Tuesday morning and forensics experts succeeded in determining that the body was that of Yoram Z”L.

Damage to areas in the Negev and Eilat was significant, including bridge collapses, utility poles and trees downed, and damage to a number of roads, some collapsing under the powerful stream of water. Schools were closed and rail service was halted, with the meteorologists reporting the heaviest rainfall in about 15 years.

For the threesome, nature enthusiasts, they planned to tour the south. Alex was driving and Sarah was seated to his side. Their decision to visit was prompted by the weather reports, predicting heavy rain. They were hoping to see the streams begin moving, areas that were dry and stagnant, but they never anticipated flooding, rainfall the likes of which are rarely seen in the area.

669 rescuers were able to extricate Alex and Sarah, but for Sarah it was already too late, as was the case for Yoram, who was simply washed away in the vehicle, heading towards the Jordan River.

The heavy storm resulted in the closure of most roadways in the Negev and Aravah, and bus service to the area was halted. The Port Authority also closed the depot in Nitzana, fearing the collapse of the Nitzana Bridge. Communities in the area were totally cut off during the day, the result of the collapse of the bridge. Ironically, water service was disrupted as was area electric. Assistance only arrived towards evening as the Eshkol Regional Council was able to arrange for food and other supplies to be brought in to stranded residents.

A situation room was set up and generators were brought in to provide electricity for security lighting as nightfall moved in. Emergency workers began inquiring as to the status of the elderly, infirmed and the children, then turning to the general population.

Following is a recording of the rainfall in a number of areas, from Sunday evening until Monday night. Jerusalem – 72mm (2.8″) – Average January rainfall 120mm (4.72″) Beersheva – 38mm (1.5?) – Average January rainfall 40mm (1.57″) Eilat – 20mm (0.78″) – Average January rainfall 0.5mm (0.19″) Arad – 49mm (1.92?) – Average January rainfall 40mm (1.57″)

The cold weather is expected to continue today, Tuesday, with intermittent showers during the day, changing to heavy rain in the north towards evening. The heavy rains are expected to head south, towards the center of the country, bringing significant rainfall during the nighttime hours.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=45143

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