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      Air Force Rescues 14 from Negev Floods; One Dead

      The Air Force rescued at least 14 people in the Negev Monday, where flash floods claimed the life of one person. Another person is missing.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 1/18/2010, 10:40 AM / Last Update: 1/18/2010, 10:35 PM

      The Air Force rescued at least 14 people in the Negev Monday, where flash floods claimed the life of one person whose jeep was swept away after she and her friends failed to heed warnings. The victim was identified as Sarah Noy Fogel, age 55. Another person is missing, and one other was rescued.

      Monday evening, the Air Force carried out a complicated helicopter rescue mission of four truckers whose vehicle was caught in raging waters that have not been seen in the Eilat region and the central Negev for years. Two choppers were employed in the operation, which lasted 90 minutes.

                                                                                     

      Among other rescue efforts Monday, the Air Force evacuated a pregnant Bedouin woman to the nearest hospital, rescued two truck drivers and a young boy injured in a car accident, evacuated the survivor of a jeep that was washed away by flash floods, and saved two premature babies and a kidney-failure patient.

       

      Photo: Flash floods near Eilat   

      Several major highways remained closed to traffic, and one bridge collapsed, cutting off several communities from the outside world.  Heavy rains are rare in the Arava and central Negev, and Eilat recorded nearly an inch of rain, more than its cumulative amount over the past several years.  

       

      Nearly two inches of rain flooded Be’er Sheva, where a river bed was filled with raging water for the first time in years. More than three inches of precipitation was registered in Jerusalem. Heavy rain also fell in the Galilee and the Golan Heights Monday night, where more than two inches of rain already has drenched the area. The peak of the storm was expected to hit late Monday night.

       

      On Tuesday, forecasters said the storm will weaken, and rain will fall over northern and central regions with scattered thunderstorms and possible light rain in the south. Snow will fall on the Hermon mountains.

       

      Photo: Western Wall prayers under umbrellas   

       

       

       

       

      Occasional showers will continue on Wednesday and Thursday over the northern and central regions, and local rain still is possible in the south as temperatures drop. 

       

      The thermometer will rise on Friday under partly cloudy skies, but the long-term forecast calls for more rain on the Sabbath and next Sunday.

       

      Water authorities are anxiously awaiting heavy rains in the Galilee and Golan, where streams flow to the Kinneret. The lake is more than 15 feet below the level at which dams have to be opened to prevent flooding in the area. The last time the dams were opened was in 1992.