Egypt’s Governor Resigns Amid Flood Crisis

Man tries to reach car after flood waters, reaching up to a meter high engulfed his vehicle.

Six people died Sunday in Alexandria after record rainfall hit Egypt’s second largest city. The deluge caused several areas of the main street along the Mediterranean to flood, almost completely halting traffic in either direction.

Several cars were stranded and according to ABC News, one of the six dead, a judge, drowned after his car was consumed by the flood waters. The others were electrocuted by a downed power line.

Saturday, the Shafik Gabr Fellow delegation met with Governor Hanny Y. El Messiry of Alexandria. As the first ‘civilian’ governor appointed in Egypt since the revolution in 2011, he has been a controversial figure. The fellows, of which I am one, met for a candid discussion about the city of Alexandria, its problems and his proposed solutions.

During his time in the appointed office, he has proposed several city improvement measures from sewage to trash to small business promotion. He has reinvigorated the city’s government buildings after they were burned during the revolution, he has engaged youth and brought their valuable voices to the political discussion, and he rebuilt the city’s crumbling public transportation system. Additionally, he’s hired several women for leadership positions.

The author, Michelle Matus, with former Governor El Messiry the evening before his resignation.

The governor’s energy, intelligence, and understanding of city planning and governance is a change from the former military officials currently occupying positions in the Egyptian government. The group, comprised of both Egyptians and Americans, walked out of the meeting hopeful for the future of Egypt.

The severe flooding throughout the ancient city is due in large part to the lack of proper infrastructure left to crumble by decades of mismanagement. As a result of the flooding, Alexandrians took to social media to air their frustrations about the flooding and their new governor.

Later, El Messiry resigned from his position and was quickly replaced by a former police officer. Not one of the Egyptian Fellows with whom I spoke thought he resigned voluntarily. They are all saddened, frustrated, and demand answers, believing El Messiry embodied hope for the future of Egypt.

After years of turmoil, frustration, and disillusionment, El Messiry offered an alternative. How can one person who recently gained a leadership position be expected to change the infrastructure of a city of 6 million in less than a year?

The Egyptian youth I have come to know want better than what their government is offering — they deserve a new story and a new path forward. The resignation of El Messiry is a major loss to the country’s governing body, the people of Alexandria, and the hope that the governmental institution can transform.

Images from the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. ‘Welcome to Freedom’.
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