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Monday, 8 December 2014 12:00 AM

Flooding in Southern Morocco

Morocco is a relatively arid country, especially in its southern regions south of the High Atlas mountains and into the Saharan desert – with average rainfall in the south below 5 cm in the wettest months. Consequently, as we have noted before on water shortages, Morocco’s southern areas suffer from a lack of water and the water table is reported to dropping significantly year on year.

However, that is a generalisation and in mid to late November 2015 Morocco suffered from the results of heavy and sustained rainfall. Our head of IT was in Taroudant when the rain started, and reported that locals same out into the street and were happy, such was the relief to see rain, but that soon changed to great sorry in places.

47 People Reported Killed

The record heavy rain resulted in flash floods over a couple of weeks, 36 reported killed in the first floods and more in the subsequent week. Flash floods are not uncommon in Morocco, normally dry riverbeds quickly being engulfed by water from often brief but heavy rainfall, but these floods were particularly severe and long lasting.

24 people are reported to have died in the city of Guelmim (the worst affected region, lying south of Agadir and the Souss Massa not far inland from the Atlantic) when a dry riverbed filled without sufficient warning and people were trapped in cars. The normally dry Tamsourt River quickly became a raging torrent and cars and people were swept away, including a girl only 9 years old. The actual death toll is unknown as many are still missing, and many more people have been injured or lost their homes.

The flash flood is reported to have destroyed home than 100 homes, damaged power lines and damaged or blocked hundreds of roads including significant main roads and 6 national highways (250 villages were reported to be cut off at one point) and even Marrakech experienced some flooding. Initial estimates put the damage at hundreds of millions of Euros.

Government Action

The Moroccan Government and local populations were reported to have acted swiftly, with army helicopters, several hundred inflatable boats and more than 100 all-terrain vehicles being deployed and taking people to safety and searching for those missing.

Naturally Morocco says …

Our thoughts go out to those affected. Whilst floods do occasionally occur, it is rare for there to be lives lost and these were the worst floods in living memory and were caused by record rainfall.