Some things never change is a worn and clichéd expression, partly because, like most clichés, it’s true. With Israel experiencing its worst winter in a decade, it might be comforting to learn, amidst the flooded roads, the cancelled trains, the water dripping onto your bed through the crack under the window (which you thought you had taken care of after last winter’s disaster) that residents of this region faced stormy winters in the 1930s with the same fascination for the effects of the weather as we do today.
Torrential rains, wind and flooding were the subject of extensive front-page coverage in in the Mandate Palestine press in early November 1938, when the Tel Aviv area was also flooded in the storm. The adverse weather started on Sunday 6th November. Here are some highlights from the Palestine Post’s 8th November coverage:
– An estimated 270mm of rain fell from Sunday 6th to Tuesday 8th November. Rainfall in Haifa on Sunday 6th and Monday 7th November reached a total of 69.2mm “a record for this time of the year, and more than the total for the season to date last year.”
– Police, Volunteer Fire Brigade and boatmen from Tel Aviv Port rescued some 300 people in the low-lying areas around Tel Aviv, some of them by boat.
– “Wadi Salameh overflowed and caused a flood which was approximately half a mile wide, with a swift current. The water spread round the 14 huts of the Ezra Quarter, isolating the inhabitants.”
– “A temporary bridge over the Yarkon River to the Rutenberg Power Station was washed away, and 150 workers were stranded. Food was supplied to them by means of an aerial cable. Wires were suspended across two poles on both banks of the river. Owing to the swelling of the river, the men could not be brought across.”
– Approximately 100 telephones were out of order in Tel Aviv. Forty of them were fixed during the day.
– Petah Tikvah police station was marooned.
– Orange groves were submerged, and the fruit was damaged by the wind and rains.
I haven’t found a picture of the November 1938 floods, but, just for fun, here is an image of British soldiers deep in snow by Jerusalem’s Western Wall during the Winter of 1921. Image from Israeldailypicture.com.