So there I was, thumbing through social media in the bedroom when I hear Vito exclaim from the living room, "Oh, my gosh! Look out the window!" I put my phone in my pocket, looked around the bedroom, and noticed that the apartment seemed darker than it usually did at that time of the day. I got up and walked down the shadowy hallway into the living room and looked through the giant window making up about two-thirds of the wall that faces the street in front of our compound. There's a little landscaped walkway with spindly trees and little manicured shrubs between our apartment and the compound wall. On the other side of the compound wall is a two-lane road separating our compound from The Clubhouse, a kind of recreation center for the compound with a small gymnaseum, swimming pool, tennis courts, etc.
* * *A few days later, it really did rain. A sign of the season's changing, perhaps. I was at home and Angela was out. All the same buildup as previously described, but with the added addition of actual rainfall. It started about midday and rained for an hour or so, although maybe it wasn't even that long. I was sitting at the computer when it started coming down quite forcefully, and then I heard a sound like glass breaking in the kitchen. After investigating, I could see little pea-sized beads of hail bouncing off the window ledge and clattering against the glass, which was causing the sound that had disturbed me. I watched the rain clamor down and the little bits of ice jumping off every surface for a while and then returned to my work.
I texted Angela and told her to be careful on the way home; when she had left, it hadn't really looked like it was going to rain, so I knew she might not be prepared for the unusual change in the weather. When she got home, however, she told me that it hadn't even rained where she was.
* * *
|The main entrance of the compound.|
At a stoplight not far from our compound, a strong gust of wind pushed a large plastic barricade into the road in front of our car and I had to get our of the car and move it. It was too heavy and the driver from the car behind me got out to help. When I returned to the car, I was soaking wet. We decided to go back home as it simply wasn't safe to be on the streets. Angela called our friends to let them know that we weren't going to make it, and we began to make our way back to the compound.
The roads were even more flooded on the way back and we were worried that we wouldn't make it all the way home. We could see cars that had stalled in knee-deep water, and cars on the wrong side of the road or backing up looking for alternate routes. Debris was scattrered along the streets and roadsides, on the water, unseen under the brown water and flying through the air. We got about 300 meters from the entrance to our compound—the rain was pouring hard and wind was knocking down walls—and I pulled over to the side of the road where a number of other cars had stopped on the edge of a large dirt field. We could see that the entire road leading to our compound was submerged and that a few cars had already failed to make it through and were stuck in the mud or water. We knew we couldn't go that way. The three of us watched a wall-sized sheet of plywood suddenly take flight from the opposite side of the road, spinning through the air in the wind, and colliding with the car that was parked behind us, bouncing off the windshield. It didnt' look like anything was damaged, but it was scary to see. That made me nervous. I didn't want anything like that to happen to us and I resolved to find a way back to the compound without wasting any more time.
While we were thinking about how long we would wait or what other options we had, we noticed that a car had taken a detour through the dirt field, around the submerged road, and followed a side road that appeared to be drivable, so I took the car out of park and rumbled along after it. We returned home without incident and watched the rest of the storm from the safety of our apartment.
The apartment wasn't completely unscathed, though. The roof in our kitchen was leaking in a few places. The leaks were not severe and we placed some towels on the counter to sop up the water. Within a couple hours, both the leaks and the rain had stopped. We didn't even bother calling maintenance because we were sure that there were much bigger problems to resolve. We knew that it had taken some people many hours to return home yesterday.
* * *
Today, Vito's school was closed and Qatar Foundation schools were also closed; I don't really know about other schools. The usual signs of life—people coming and going from the clubhouse across the street and the distant sounds of traffic—were absent this morning. It was peaceful and vibrant and sunny. Everything I could see from the window was more colorful, greener, washed clean by the storm, but the road was still closed; the main gate to our compound was closed and the body of water that had engulfed cars and trucks was still covering the street. Some kids were paddling a kayak around. When we went out later to "survey the kingdom," as one of my neighbors put it, we could see that the roads and sidewalks were covered with silt and mud. Unfortunately, the severity of the flooding on the other side of the compound was much greater as we observed that the water had entered some of the apartments and villas over there. This wasn't the only place affected by the foul whether. We heard about other disasters in other parts of the city, as well, but it is hard to say when things will get back to normal. I know that Qatar Foundation schools are closed for, at least, one more days, so I will stay at home again tomorrow until I hear otherwise.