The city was in total chaos after the heaviest downpour in 17 years as described by some local residents. Traffic came to a standstill and long lines of people walked home, abandoning their vehicles in water.
Palestine Street, Madinah Road, Wali Al-Ahad Street and the entire Bani Malik district were either flooded or jammed with traffic. Cars could be seen swept away by fast flowing rainwater in some areas. Five historical buildings in the Balad district also collapsed as a result of the rains.
Helicopters hovered over the areas most affected by the rainwater runoff on Thursday, lifting people off rooftops in approximately 1,500 operations. Amphibious teams were dispatched in dinghies. At least 951 stranded people were rescued by the afternoon. Four hundred and sixty-six of them were airlifted off rooftops. Helicopters also rescued girls and staff marooned in the Dar Al-Hekma College at around 1 a.m. Thursday morning.
Civil Defense staff were provided additional support by colleagues from Makkah and Taif in addition to divers of the Saudi Emergency Force from the provinces of Riyadh and Asir. “These support forces are specially trained to deal with conditions related to running and stagnant waters,” said Civil Defense Director-General Lt. Gen. Saad Al-Tuwaijri.
The Meteorology Department of King Abdulaziz University registered 114mm of rainfall in four hours on Wednesday morning. In the Nov. 25, 2009 floods, approximately 90mm of rain fell in about three hours. Earlier this month, 45mm rain fell in a few hours. The average rainfall in Jeddah for the winter months (November to February) is about 51mm.
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who inspected the flood-hit areas on Thursday, said a lack of rainwater drainage system was the main reason for massive flooding in the city.