Penang floods: Help from afar in big clean-up

Penang floods: Help from afar in big clean-up
Team spirit: Three youngsters cleaning up their community football field in George Town.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

BUKIT MERTAJAM - Help is coming from all over for the flood victims in Penang. While political parties and NGOs made a beeline to the state to help, three friends in Selangor also decided they should set aside two days to help Penangites clean up their homes.

One of them has a small lorry. They filled it with brooms, rakes, shovels, pails, a high-pressure water sprayer, everything they think they would need to clean flood-damaged homes and drove up here on Monday morning.

"Our aim was to help the poor, old, sick and those living alone to wash the mud out of the homes," said Lim Lip Suan, who is also Kuala Langat and Sepang Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) liaison officer.

But he also did something else.

"I posted pictures of the three of us arriving and helping in a WhatsApp group."

Paper loss: Workers clearing damaged books at Taman Desa Damai in Bukit Mertajam.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Seeing the photographs, more friends were inspired. Many more came, also with lorries laden with cleaning equipment.

"More than 75 people from Selangor are now in Penang, helping people clean up and restore their homes.

"My pictures were shared with many other JKKKs in Selangor and I was stunned to find out so many came.

"I have never seen so much damage. There is rubbish everywhere, fallen trees, wet and useless furniture on the streets. The municipal council workers and the local folk might need months to clean up.

"The mud and floodwaters trapped for days in the houses were super smelly and I was worried that diseases would spread. It was back-breaking work to clean up.

Social work: IJM Corporation staff helping clean the Taman Free School neighbourhood in George Town.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

"Many won't have the strength to clean their own homes by themselves," he said.

In many places, neighbours got together to help each other clean their homes as it was near impossible to do it by themselves.

R. Devchandran, who lives in Juru, had to empty out his single-storey house.

"Almost nothing could be salvaged as the water rose to about 3m. Some groups came and handed out brooms, detergent and other things for us to use in the clean-up.

"It's like moving into a new, empty house. I will have to buy everything all over again. Every house here has a pile of household goods outside.

"The local council lorries came but they did not manage to clear the garbage. They will have to make many trips," said Devchandran, adding that he only managed to finish cleaning up late in the evening.

Kitchen chore: A mother and daughter cleaning their refrigerator in Taman Desa Damai.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

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