One week after the historic snow storm blanketed much of the Middle East, areas of the Gaza Strip continue to struggle with severe flooding in its aftermath. Dangerously under-prepared for such violent flooding, Gaza City residents have few resources available to them, and have resorted wading through neighborhoods on fishing boats and makeshift watercrafts to rescue people from their homes. More than 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, and that number keeps climbing.
Leading up to the storm, Gaza had endured an energy crisis with daily 12-hour blackouts and severe fuel shortages, which has hampered officials' ability to respond and pump water out of flooded areas. United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesperson Chris Gunness has since labelled Gaza a "disaster area" and called on the international community to lift the Israeli blockade so that recovery efforts can proceed.
"Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster," Gunness said. "But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this."
Here are some images of how Gaza residents are dealing with this calamity.
1. Gaza has become a lake of waste
For several weeks, Gaza has been dealing with major sewage issues after several pumping stations failed due to a lack of electricity and fuel. The flooding has therefore effectively turned much of Gaza into a lake of waste.
2. Citizens and some service officers help people escape their flooded homes
Because of severely limited resources, a mix of capable citizens and service officers have been travelling through the streets by boat to help stranded residents and, in some cases, monitor homes to prevent looting.
3. Egypt's Government Has Stopped Diesel From Entering Gaza
A few month ago, Egypt's new military-backed government closed the tunnels that were used to transport around 1 million liters of diesel to Gaza daily. The city has been facing rolling blackouts ever since.
4. Gaza's health system is in danger of major failure
The mixture of sewage and water has made traversing the water-filled streets of Gaza quite difficult, and in some ways, very dangerous. UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness warned that Gaza's health system faces a serious risk of major failure or complete dysfunction.
5. Some estimate 40,000 people displaced from flooding
Large swaths of Northern Gaza have been flooded with two-meter-high waters, creating lakes that have trapped and stranded many residents. Some put estimates of displaced people at 5,000, others at 10,000, and some as high as 40,000.
6. Gaza residents are forced to fend for themselves because of the blockade
Along with limiting fuel supplies, the Israeli siege of Gaza has made it almost impossible for foreign aid to enter the city, leaving residents to fend for themselves in many cases.
7. No fuel means no water pumping means a lot of flooding
The lack of electricity and fuel has crippled water pumps that would usually be used for clearing out this much water.
8. Displaced Gaza residents are seeking shelter everywhere
Many displaced people have taken shelter in schools and police stations, most of which is highly unprepared to deal with such a high influx of people.
9. An endless surge of sewage is filling the Gaza streets
About one months ago, 35,000 cubic meters of raw sewage overflowed into the streets of Gaza. The number has since been climbing with no real end in sight.
10. The effects of last week's snowstorm are being felt in many ways
Last week's snowstorm caused damage in the form of fallen trees and blocked roads, making recovery efforts that much more difficult within Gaza City.
11. Gaza residents are using whatever they can to get around
Several years into the blockade, residents of Gaza City have very limited resources and are using whatever they can to get by. Here, a man is floating on a tire to find and help others.