Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
PETALING JAYA, Dec 5 (Sin Chew Daily) – Floods in east-coast states are not something new as the states have faced the same problem almost every year during the monsoon rainy season. State natural disaster committees and state governments have announced earlier that comprehensive preparedness has been made but in the face of the current floods, the authorities seem to have been caught off their guard.
It is understood that as of 2pm today, various non-governmental organisations (NGO), including Crisis Relief Services & Training (CREST), Fo Guang Shan relief team and the Red Cross are still unable to reach severely affected areas to start their relief work since the floods have cut off land transport and they must act in coordination with state governments and the National Security Council. They are still waiting for the right time to depart.
CREST: No advance notice from MMD
A representative from CREST said that the government should have effectively conveyed the accurate message to the people and various government departments in advance so that a comprehensive evacuation preparations can be made.
He said that with today's well developed network technology, the information dissemination channels are very convenient to use but the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD) had failed to make an advance notice and even its official portals had once paralysed when the floods struck.
He said that the government and NGOs should jointly hold awareness campaigns to raise the awareness of disaster prevention among various government units and the people.
He cited that Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) should cut off power when the water rose to a certain level instead of waiting until the floods struck and resulted in electric shock incidents.
He also said that it is also dangerous to let children play in the water as they are exposed to various risks, including suffering from tetanus if they are cut by sharp objects underwater and being bitten by crocodiles and snakes in the water.
He explained that the severe floods are mainly caused by the new moon tide and since the moon was closest to the Earth on Dec 4 with a distance of 360,063km, the moon's tidal force was strengthened, causing a great tide.
He added that since the moon has again moved farther from the Earth and the offshore winds have also weakened, the sea level shall drop by next Monday.
Continuous rains slow down the speed of water withdrawal
An official from the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) said that despite rains in affected areas have weakened, the continuous rains would still slow down the speed of water withdrawal.
She pointed out that if there is no more rain, the water could withdraw in two to three days.
Although some people thought that the government had done not enough to convey messages, a senior relief worker said that the government had issued an alert before the heavy rains struck and the people should have hoarded food and taken precautionary measures.
"In Segamat, the local government had sent personnel to observe the water level three days before the floods while disaster relief centres were being set up and dry food was prepared," she said.
The Fo Guang Shan relief team said that once the fieldwork at the affected areas is completed, they will depart to severely affected areas. The vulnerable groups such as women, children, senior citizens and the disabled will be prioritised.
A Red Cross representative said that they are waiting for confirmation and notification from the Kuantan branch and the relief team is ready to leave at any time.
Pahang DID director Datuk Zulkefli Hassan said that the Sg Galing deepening and widening project, which has been completed only 50% so far, has actually played a role in the floods this time, allowing water in urban areas to subside within a day.
He said that the riverbed deepening project costing RM50 million was started in July this year and is expected to be completed by June next year.
He said that other drainage enhancement and flood prevention projects will also be started soon.
MPK: Hard to prevent floods due to inclement weather
Kuantan Municipal Council president Datuk Zulkifli Yaacob said that even the MPK and the authorities have coordinated and received annual funding from the government to improve drainage system, it is still hard to prevent floods due to the inclement weather.
Some drainage enhancement projects have been carried out and the rainfall on Dec 2 and 3 was actually equal to the rainfall of half a month if we assume 1,000 milimetres per day. Any drainage systems will fail in the face of such abnormal rainfall.
"However, the water withdrew quickly, proving that these facilities are more or less effective or the water would not have withdrawn so quickly," he said.