Image c/o NBC / Yousef Murad / AP
Libya has experienced record-breaking floods and catastrophic loss of life caused by Storm Daniel combined with crumbling infrastructure. Storm Daniel ravaged through several countries in the Middle East including Libya, which was the most affected country, as well as Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Storm Daniel brought approximately sixteen inches of rain in a 24-hour period to Libya.
Derna, a rural city of about 100,000 citizens, was the most affected by Storm Daniel. Roads are destroyed and several bridges have collapsed, making it difficult for aid to arrive as the damage to the city infrastructure is severe.
Two dams in the outskirts of Derna collapsed on September 11th and sent a seven-meter-high wave towards the city, destroying about 25% of the city. The dams had a combined capacity of 4.76 billion gallons.
As of September 19th, the death toll is 11,300, but it is expected to continue rising as thousands remain missing.
Aid has slowly been arriving to Derna, but United Nations officials say that at least $71.4 million is needed to provide relief to the 250,000 people impacted by the disastrous floods in five different provinces over the next three months.
The dams were constructed in the 1970s with the intention to provide an added layer of protection from flash flooding to Derna. Concerns about the structural integrity of the dams were questioned in 2007. Work was completed in November of 2017, according to the Arsel Construction Company Ltd, who built an additional dam in between of the two existing dams as an added safety precaution. The integrity of the construction firm has been questioned as the third dam is not present in satellite imagery.
In 2022, Abdelwanees Ashoor, a professor of civil engineering published a warning in the Sabha University Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences stating, “In the event of a big flood, the consequences will be disastrous for the residents of the valley and the city.”
Climate scientists at the World Weather Attribution group found that climate change made the devastating storm up to ten times more likely and made it possible for 40% more rainfall.
“Storm Daniel was a low-pressure weather system, as we usually have in the Mediterranean, it was not very deep- but it was very early in the season and it was stagnant and stayed over the south Ionian Sea for four, five days.” Said Kostas Lagouvardos, at the National Observatory of Athens.
The sea temperatures in Libya were two to three degrees above average, causing Storm Daniel to draw additional energy and give it capacity to hold more moisture. A storm of this intensity is only expected every 300 to 600 years.
Madison Sciba '24,