Navy, IDF evacuate stranded citizens amid storm

IDF helicopters rescue 15 people in Baka al-Gharbiya; Navy helps families escape flood in rubber boats in Hadera.

IDF soldiers on bridge over Saar waterfall in Golan 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF soldiers on bridge over Saar waterfall in Golan 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Rescue services were called into action Tuesday night to help stranded residents throughout Israel, as flooding from the ongoing storm that has hit nearly the entire country this week continued.
In the Haifa area on Tuesday night, IDF helicopters and crews from Unit 669 rescued 15 people stuck on the roof of a building in Baka al-Gharbiya, as rising water levels threatened to sweep them away.
The decision to evacuate them by helicopter came after rescue crews were unable to reach them from the ground. Magen David paramedics took the evacuees to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, as they were suffering from hypothermia.
Meanwhile, in Bat Hefer, a small community near Netanya, 14 families were evacuated after the overflowing Schem River flooded some 300 homes. In nearby Hadera, the navy helped several families escape the flood in rubber boats. The firefighters’ station in the city was abandoned after the water reached almost a meter above ground level.
Soldiers from the Home Front Command were also on the ground in Hadera, where electricity was out on several streets and three schools were evacuated in the early afternoon.
From the beginning of the storm through Tuesday evening, rainfall amounted to between 100 millimeters and 200 mm. in most of the North as well as 250 mm. in some areas, said Dr. Amos Porat, director of the Climate Department at the Israel Meteorological Service.
In the country’s Center, rain accumulated to between 100 mm. and 150 mm., and in the Negev, to less than 10 mm., he added.
Snowfall is expected in the Galilee and the Golan on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and in Jerusalem on Wednesday through Thursday, Porat said.
Between 7 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, there was a total of 293 incidents, including 26 flooded apartments, 65 flooded yards, 41 fallen trees and branches, five obstacle-removals on roads, 14 fallen traffic lights and signs, seven potholes, 50 blocked antennas, seven sewage system issues, seven fallen building parts, nine torn cables and electricity issues, 56 problematic road puddles, two telecommunications issues, two shut-down water taps and two situations involving evacuees’ welfare, according to the city.
All in all, 19 people from south Tel Aviv came to the evacuation centers, but they eventually returned home. The city itself did not evacuate a single resident, the municipality stressed.
In a brighter turn of events, as of Tuesday morning, Lake Kinneret stood at 211.5 meters below sea level, just 2.66 m. from being filled and a 22-cm. rise from the morning before, said Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor.
The last time such a rise occurred was the night of February 22-23, 2003, he added.
Localized power outages occurred throughout the day around the country – mostly due to trees or other objects collapsing on power lines, the Israel Electric Corporation said.
Production capability for Tuesday was 11,500 megawatts, while demand at peak was around 10,900 megawatts – meaning that the IEC would be able to provide electricity to all who demanded it, barring any unforeseen production issues, the company said.
The IEC stressed that despite the floods ravaging areas all over the country and splitting transmission cables, the company had thus far been able to continue supplying stable power to 99.8% of its 2.5 million customers.
“The ravages of the stormy weather did not prevent us from supplying electricity to all residents of Israel,” said IEC CEO Eli Glickman.
During a tour that day of sites damaged, where teams were fixing downed power lines and other issues, Glickman stressed that the company would continue to do everything to restore power in areas with losses as quickly as possible – “in any weather and at any moment.”
The IEC was working in constant coordination with the local authorities, ambulance service, fire departments and the police.
On Wednesday, temperatures will probably drop below Tuesday’s, with showers, strong winds and snow in some areas, according to the IMS. Thursday will feature continued showers and storms with strong winds all over the country, along with morning snow in the northern and central mountain peaks, including in Jerusalem. By afternoon, however, the rain will weaken in both quantity and intensity, though temperatures will remain very cold.Melanie Lidman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.