Israel’s heaviest rainstorms in more than two decades have caused flooding that closed roads and damaged property throughout the country, as Jerusalem residents brace for as much as 30 centimeters (1 foot) of snow.
Jerusalem closed its schools at noon today and the municipality advised drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a meeting with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich and police officials to assess disaster preparedness efforts.
“Emergency and rescue services are working around the clock to save lives,” Netanyahu said in a text message sent from his office in Jerusalem.
The storm cost Israeli industry about 300 million shekels ($80 million) yesterday, with half of it attributed to absenteeism as people were prevented from reaching work by roadblocks set up by police due to flooding, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said in an e-mailed statement.
Tel Aviv’s main Ayalon highway remained open today after closing for several hours yesterday due to water overflows. Military helicopters were used yesterday to rescue people stranded on rooftops by flooding in three towns in central Israel, the army said.
“Several roads in the north and center of the country near streams have closed due to flooding, as has the highway along the Dead Sea,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said by phone.