Rare storms are battering cities across Iraq and have dumped heavy rain on the capital, Baghdad.

The Iraqi government declared Thursday a holiday to ease the burden on people who may otherwise struggle to get to work due to flooding.

Security forces have been deployed in Baghdad to help locals navigate the floodwaters. The forces have been stretched thin battling the Islamic State militant group since last year, so the battle with Mother Nature comes as an added challenge.

Old and inadequate sewage pipes have long been an issue in Iraq and among the complaints of citizens recently protesting for better basic services and an end to corruption. Calls for reform have intensified since the summer, when scorching temperatures led to chronic power cuts.