Floods and stricken Hummers.

The rains came a couple of weeks ago, and flooded just about any area that could be defined as a street, or the areas next to the streets...and houses... and 2nd floor apartments apparently.

My friend, one of the folk with flooding issues in her 2nd floor abode, mentioned that it had nothing to do with some tsunami style tidal surge. Nor did rivers that had broken their banks send a crushing load of water along the streets turning them into some kind of Porsche and chicken strewn canal.
No, nothing as dramatic. (thankfully)

Even though we see rain here only a few days a year, and when we get a storm it's usually a big one, it appears that no-one gives any thought to precautionary measures that might need to be employed to... say... make sure if a balcony is utilised for an apartment block any water said balcony collects can drain somewhere outside.

As opposed to the current balcony drainage standard:
Seal all areas, so that the area in question has all the characteristics of a bath tub, wait for rain, let balcony turn quickly from nice and usable outdoor area to quaint fishpond. A fish pond, when filled above the height of the doorstep will happily empty itself into the living room.

Look, there was alot of rain, but surely it doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognise that a sealed, exposed balcony will fill up with water... and that water will always find a way out using the path of least resistance.

I have a solution though.

Leave a drain hole.

I know, innovative isn't it?

Of course I am aware of the affect on the job costing, and the ensuing budget blowout - but I am sure that the 50dhs (about $15 US)  cost to add a drain hole per balcony could be recouped via an instalment plan as part of the rent agreement. I know this might cause the landlords to have to have a slightly less cash stuffed pillow to sleep on - but only temporarily.

It'd be interesting  how many pillow cases of cash had to be thrown at repairing my friend's place... alot more than a few DHS I suspect.

The drainage woes continued in the streets...

The folk here aren't REALLY used to such conditions, and there is little to no drainage in the streets - and the stuff that there is, well... more of an after thought - as if the planner walked down a finished road and said

"In other countries I have seen holes in the gutters - with bars over them... I think they keep their cats in them. In order to compete with the rest of the civilised world we must have holes in the gutters..."

Unfortunately it seems that while most streets here have nicely formed drains in their curbs, I suspect that the planners didn't manage to have them drain TO anywhere. A fundamental aspect of a drain I would have thought.

So as I mentioned at the beginning, all low lying areas on the island were flooded. Of the roads that weren't, most had a sheet of water across them about 2 cm's deep.

I stepped out of the front door of our building, only to find that the rain had upgraded from 'pretty heavy' to 'WOW, that's some serious rain' in the time it had taken me to walk down 2 flights of stairs.

I then uttered potentially the DUMBEST statement one can make, while striding through heavy rain toward ones JEEP. A JEEP that cost not much more that a tank of premium fuel.

"This bargain JEEP I'm cruising about in just won't let me down - it's built for weather like this"

Indeed it is, or at least it was 167,000kms ago. As I was soon to find out, it now displays 2 interesting behaviours while driving in heavy rain.

Behaviour 1: If driven through a puddle, and that puddle is deep enough, water will spray up into the engine bay.
Behaviour? This causes the horn to come on and stay on - in the first instance I was in slow traffic, and it sounded in all it's fog horn glory for 90seconds straight.
A minute and a half is a loooong time in the sound cycle of a car horn.

I managed to entertain the drivers on my left, and those in the bus shelter to my right, by repeatedly punching the steering wheel. I knew that the problem had to be in the engine bay, but percussive maintenance visited upon the steering wheel meant that the people outside knew that it wasn't my intention to be honking the living hell out of the immediate area. Personally I also found the action to be pleasingly therapeutic.

It happened again while driving through the flooded basement carpark of the shopping centre - again with the steering wheel banging and apologetic looks at my fellow carpark users, followed by some ferreting around in the engine bay.

Behaviour 2: I was warned by the previous owner that the sunroof was not watertight enough to survive the water jets at the auto car-wash.

A claim that I tested not long after taking delivery of the car, and found to be spot on with respect accuracy. More water couldn't have got in had I actually opened the roof and fitted a funnelling device to ensure uniform water coverage of the interior.

What she had neglected to inform me was that the sunroof was prone to leaking... full stop. Not conditional in relation to high powered water, oh no. If it rains hard enough one is likely to find themselves (as did yours very damply) sitting at traffic lights - giggling uncontrollably as I was trying to arrange shopping bags on both front seats so that they might act as water buckets.

I was stuck for at least 3 rounds of traffic lights - obviously the JEEP gods had decided to punish me further for taking the beasty for granted by making my side of the traffic lights green for 3 nanoseconds at a time. The crossing traffic, however, appeared to have significantly more time to drive through the ever deepening fishpond that had been a perfectly good intersection an hour before.

MUCH more time.

I think their turn was at least 1 hour in duration.

My time judgement may have been distorted by the need to adjust the bag o' water that was leaking on my lap though.

Typically on the second round of "our turn" the car in front decided that texting was far more important than driving, and as I had by this time taken the trouble to remove the horn fuse, I couldn't let him know. So I waited. Intermittently flashing my lights at him and adjusting bucket bags. His tardiness meant that his car got through on the amber... and I was stuck again.

A situation I am eternally grateful for. The comedy that ensued was fantastic.

As I mentioned earlier - the intersection was under water, and while not impassable was probably above the door sills of your regular passenger car.

Under the bridge and into the pond drove a white H2 Hummer, the moment the mighty behemoth had reached the deepest part it stopped and put it's hazard lights on - the double black tinted window dropped, and a very distressed looking man peered out at what I guess he thought was an insurmountable obstacle.

The panic was evident on his face - as the water lapped somewhere near the middle of his wheel hubs.

In his Hummer.

A large, all capable 4wd. A vehicle that could just about drive across an ocean if it had to. A vehicle that comes from the pedigree of cars that will survive just about anything.

While struggling to contain my mirth regarding the sunroof, I was now GIFTED with the most obvious display of the "Just because you can afford it doesn't meant you should drive it; appropriate vehicle or phallic extension?" discussion concept yet seen by yours-much-leak-ily.

Just when I thought that the scene couldn't get any better, the mirth level was raised to surprisingly new heights.

An Indian guy in a Nissan Sunny (current model Pulsar *i think* for those in Australia) steadily drove up behind the apparently foundered military style vehicle. He waited for a second, then seeing no barrier that should impede his progress, proceeded to drive around the Hummer, and off along the ramp up to the street he needed.

The moment the Sunny's tail lights passed the front of the stricken vessel the Hummer driver's facial expression went, in quick succession:

Panic, confusion, embarrassed horror.

While the vehicle worth a 10th of his and with NOWHERE near the capability happily zoomed off into the distance.

Trying to regain some shred of dignity the windows slid up and the Hummer-barge tentatively moved off in the same direction as the Sunny.

I was at this point almost apoplectic... and laughing so hard that in spite of the honking behind be, and the desire to get somewhere where my sunroof wouldn't have any fluid falling upon it to let in... I STILL missed the lights...

Oh what a wonderful sight it was...

I love rain.

I love it.


  1. This is utter gold! Very well written account of something that could have either been infuriating or amusing. Glad you chose the latter and chose to share it!

  2. Thanks!

    If I wasn't concerned about:
    A: disrupting the bag of water on my lap


    B: Filling phone or camera with water as I fumbled wet fingered about in the cab of the mighty JEEP

    I would have taken a photo...

    Grinning now just thinking about it

  3. That was brilliant Drew, absolutely hilarious. I generally don't mind the rain here except when it's stopped, that's because once the sky clears and the sun shines on these smallish lakes the stink that comes up can rival the scuzziest sewage leak.

  4. Thanks Ms Line!

    I've noticed on my morning runs that the aroma emanating from "no-where drains" can be quite pungent regardless of water.

    Perhaps it's the sluicing effect that gives the temporary lakes their particular "schtank".

  5. it. Best laugh in ages

  6. Michael Auden18:03

    Here comes the rain. A good chuckle for me too Drew. That's the sort of rain we have been having this year. 22 inches in 48 hours last time. Trouble is, people know how to drive in it or avoid it here. Add a waterproof camera to your collection.


  7. Thanks Michael and J9,
    22 inches?

    I don't know what would have happened here had we got that much.

    Hang on... yes I do.

    The boat sales yard would have been emptied of it's stock, BUT none of the boats would hit the street rivers here before the rains, and rivers subsided...


    Well there would be boat windows to tint, designer seatbelts to fit, diamond covered petrol caps to be purchased....

    Thinking about mounting a camera to the mighty JEEP as a permanent fixture, maybe I could fit the mounting plate over the sunroof, thus resolving the leaking issue at the same time.


Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to

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