The Human Cost of Gonu

Today, I wanted to bring to your attention the human cost of Cyclone Gonu on Oman. The area has been getting very little coverage, but from what I can tell, this was quite a tragedy. As newsbriefsOman is reporting:

49 people have been reported killed in the aftermath of Cyclone Gonu and 27 people are still missing, according to Oman News Agency. The Ministry of Information website cannot be reached at the time of writing. I have seen no published estimates of the cost of damage, but it is likely to be huge.

There are three sites that I can find that have any information about what you can do to help these people and/or raise awareness (and even those (that I can find as of today) do not have links to legitimate and/or accessible charities or philanthropy that anyone outside of the area can donate to--anyone have any ideas on this?):

* (created by the founder of Sleepless in Muscat--but there's nowhere in here to send help)
* (this one seems to be a news aggregator that existed prior to the storm from someone in Britain)

Please feel free to list other sites, ideas, news and information in the comment thread below.

These people, especially those we of in Oman, look to have suffered greatly from this storm. (We are also hearing that people living on the southern coast of Iran are also in bad shape, but I can't find a site, etc., or much news on them either).

There is nothing wrong with visiting these sites and giving them comfort and leaving them a "Salaam 'alaikum" (which means "peace be unto you"). If you are so inclined, we can certainly at least raise awareness and try to get these people some help.

The International Red Cross/Red Crescent is the only group that comes readily to mind. However, they use so much of their money fundraising and so little on actual disaster relief I have a hard time donating to them. I remember just how active they were here on the Gulf Coast with our Rita/Katrina refugees. They made FEMA look efficent!

Yep, I almost linked to the Red Crescent in the article...but doing a search on their site, they don't even have a mention of Oman or Gonu. Gah.

Is that true? I thought the Red Cross was one of the better charities in that regard, with 92 cents out of every dollar going directly to programs and services that help people in need.

The take of the Red Cross is that they were overwhelmed and confused BUT trying to do the right thing. Lots of volunteers that did not know quite what to do. There is no animus towards them.

In the first days back, I used to get one meal a day (it was interesting listening to New Orleanians, even in extremis critiquing the cooking) from them plus canned goods & dry food I brought back with me. For some, it was their only source of food (that and begging National Guard for MREs). Some days the Red Cross would give them two meals.

Apparently the Red Cross assumed that we ate like other Americans and we got WAY too much hyperprocessed junk food (do you people REALLY eat that junk ?) Badly cooked pasta with unseasoned tomato sauce was cheaper and a treat after the junk food they handed out.

OTOH, FEMA was deliberate. Michael Brown has admitted that he was supposed to make New Orleans and Louisiana elected Democratic officials look bad but make the R ones look good.
Hatred for FEMA has no bounds.


Leanan found these:

Some Oman links....

Water crisis plagues Oman

Gonu death toll hits 61

Oman hit by water shortages as cyclone cleanup continues

Muscat is hobbling back to normalcy

And this is a satellite photo of Sur taken after the cyclone.

The other problem as a US citizen is that the Homeland Security folks may brand us as terrorists for donating to Islamic charities. those guys have the intelligence of a snapping turtle and the sense of humor, too. I wish there was a Secular Humanist pope so we could donate without a religeous or political implication. (thats irony, you humorless SOB's)

You could take a look at Doctors Without Borders. They help everyone without asking questions. They studiously keep no political agenda, and never pick sides, so they can get where they are needed (that is not saying that they do not have an ideology, they are pretty lefty, but they do not wear it in their sleeves while working). They are pretty fast when responding to disasters, as they do not have any political boss to ask permission from. they are better than others at avoiding being driven by what is in the news today.

They famously said that they did not need more money for the Tsunami relief operation, that they had all they could handle, and for me that wins them kudos for honesty.

They have the resources to go where they are needed, and they already have an operation in Iran taking care of Afghan refugees, and have clinics in Mahedan.

I myself prefer to donate to the organization as a whole instead of for a specific cause. That way they can react faster and use it wherever it is more needed.

Hello Prof. Goose & Leanan,

I am certainly not a skilled satellite photo analyst, but from my examination of the photo: my guess is the general topsoil is very poor and geo-sparse in this country. Most food is probably imported, and with the roads washed out--this only compounds the problem. The heavy rainfall from Gonu might have washed out alot of any farmland/gardens from severe erosion: this will take years to replenish the topsoil and restore planting and harvesting yields.

Another crucial factor is possible damage to any irrigation system infrastructure. My much earlier post detailed that most inland aquifers were quite brackish-- I am not expert enough to know whether brackish water can be used directly on crops or whether it must be desalination processed first. But if the flashfloods took out established irrigation canals, then this will be a very expensive and time-consuming process to restore. Thus, I would expect food prices in Oman to continue to rise quite rapidly for years to come as we go postPeak.

The tremendous outflow of silt and debris into the ocean will have drastic effects on fishing, too. I would expect tremendous algae blooms to drive fisheries much further offshore-- more fisherman fuel required, and lower yields until subsea habitat equilibrium re-establishes itself. I am not familiar with ocean currents in this area, but hopefully huge patches of anoxic seawater will not arise.

What is upsetting to me is that Oman is quite geo-similar to the deserts of my SW US. But I doubt if my local leaders will learn from this Omani tragedy and go to early mitigation. They want golf courses, shopping malls, and maximum asphalt instead. Even the leading sustainability research institution here talks glowingly of oxymoronic 'sustainable growth'. =(

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Courtesy of DIYer, a screenshot of Sur from Google Earth, before Gonu:

Hello TODers,

Yep, not a good sign are people are fighting and scuffling over limited potable water supplies. Hope they get their desalination plants up to speed soon. Drastic water shortages can quickly lead to a breakdown in social cohesion.

The other concern has to do with damage to their sewage systems. The flashfloods and storm surge probably gave this infrastructure the ole one-two punch with broken pipes in the wadhis, and other sections now useless from being filled with mud and sand. Other problems might be electrical sewage maceration/uplift pumps having no juice to operate, or damaged from storm immersion. I just hope any overflows and/or pipeline backups are not making critical health problems.

Perhaps, due to the ongoing water shortage and storm damage, the local officials have forbidden toilet flushing and created temporary municipal humanure recycling in the areas most affected. Anything is better than further compounding the damage by creating more health problems.

As mentioned before: people take this water/sewage for granted, then freak when it suddenly is non-functional.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

Oman reports Sur LNG plant was NOT damaged:

Obviously, I have no way to verify this, but that is good news if true.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hmmm, this contradicts the report on the zman website:

Zman's Energy Brain

Oman’s Sur LNG terminal, which has the capability of liquifying 10 mm tons per year, or 1.3 Bcfgpd or 2.4% of estimated global liquefaction capacity, was badly damaged and no time frame has been set for reopening. Omani LNG has not come to the US since 2005 in favor of other destinations and they are a relatively small player so the loss of the facility should not have much, if any, impact on U.S. gas prices.

Hard to know what to believe right now.

Hello. I thought I would introduce myself as the person who runs newsBriefsOman at My name is Sue Hutton, and I lived in Oman from 1991 to 2000. I worked in the now defunct Ministry of Water Resources. We were always aware of the potentially massive impact of intense flooding, but it's very hard to make people aware of the possibility of the dangers when they appear to happen infrequently. In fact, an event of the magnitude of Gonu is probably of the order of 1 in 100 years. We have yet to see if climate change figures in this, although UAE meteorologists point out that there is no evidence in this direction. Tropical cyclones happen.

newsBriefsOman is not an automatic aggregator. I spend quite a lot of time checking out stories on the world press listing what I think is interesting in the Headlines blog, and when time permits, making entries in the main blog. It's a person intensive task. I have been back in UK since 2000, but I loved my experience of Oman so much, that I decided to continue monitoring what was happening out there. In a sense, this is a continuation of the work I was already doing in Oman.

I wrote back to someone from the Oil Drum this morning about donating funds to any relief effort. At the time of writing, there has been no call for financial aid. The infrastructure for charitable assistance is in its infancy in Oman. The Oman Charitable Organisation, chaired by the Minister of Legal Affairs, is a quasi-government institution.

BankMuscat has promised RO3 in aid, that's around £12m. If I hear anything else, I can let you know.

Thank you for reproducing the satellite image. I haven't been able to look at it fully, but my first impressions are that huge floods have through to the creek on the east of the town, and swept out to sea on the west where the coast road leading towards Qalhat, the site of the LNG plant, is obviously broken.

Agriculture around Sur is likely to have been limited. It's a sea-faring and fishing port predominantly. Without a comparable 'before' photo, it's hard to say whether dwellings and settlements have been affected by the alluvium brought down by the floods. Let's just hope that there was no housing in those wadis.

All for now. Sue Hutton

Hello Sue,

Welcome to TOD and thxs for your report--please keep us informed if you can.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than YEast?

Thanks for posting this. It's interesting that while the little the MSM noted of Gonu was its potential impact (or lack thereof) on oil prices, TOD recognizes that there may be more to life than oil.

And thanks to Sue Hutton for the update. Didn't Oman offer something like $15M after Katrina?

Hello again.

Khaleej Times has published an article about restoration of communications with Sur and Quriyat. It's claimed that Sur did not suffer as badly as the residents had feared although they were badly frightened by the storm.

I'm not sure exactly what has happened in Quriyat which stands at the edge of the flood plain of Wadi Dayqah. We know that Dayqah can channel immense amounts of alluvium and water to the coast. I've heard that the villages in the middle to lower reaches, where there were mango gardens, have been destroyed.

The Oman Observer quoted an overall cost of $1billion to repair all the damage.

In my previous post I incorrectly quoted RO3m as approximately £12m. It should have been $12m.

I'm continuing to update newsBriefsOman as I receive messages from friends and from press articles.


I've just received this information about where you can send donations for relief of victims of Cyclone Gonu in Oman:

Dar Al Ata'a
A/C no. 32-60012-0081-038
Madinat Sultan Qaboos Branch


someone here was wondering about the geology of Oman. Sue is a geologist also. On her web page is a series of links with info on the geology of the area.

nice job Sue, you seem to have kept yourself pretty busy while there.

Now if you could switch to open source instead of Microsoft as an expert, then you could really help the world ;)

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

The Sultan of Oman has gratefully declined all foreign aid and donations. Only Omani internal aid will be accepted.

Sounds like Bush. He turned down $1 billion in foreign aid and relief that we could have REALLY used in New Orleans.