Homes and future at risk for Ranau's residents

A family having their sahur at the relief centre at the Ranau community hall on Thursday.

RANAU - Tears well up in widow Sariah Kasih's eyes as she sits with her children on the floor of the community centre here for their sahur or pre-dawn meal.

The 33-year-old mother of four can't help but worry about her family's future since the mudslides hit the district on June 15. They had to hastily leave their house in Kampung Kimolihing and move to the community centre, about 3km away, as the village is downstream of the Ranau water treatment plant intake point in Sungai Liwagu.

Those sluice gates are holding back tonnes of debris largely made up of fallen trees, boulders and rocks stretching 1km up the river.

Should thyey give way, the debris, especially the thousands of tree trunks and boulders, may come crashing down on Kampung Kimolihing and destroy houses including Sariah's.

"Everything is so uncertain at the moment. Even though my family is safe, I can't earn a living for them," said Sariah, who sells vegetables at the Ranau town market.

She keeps her stock at the house and she can't operate her vegetable stall without it.

That's not her only worry. There's also the uncertainty of whether the family would ever have a home to return to as the threat of the tonnes of debris slamming down their village still looms.

"I just don't know what to do ... if we lose our house," Sariah sighed as she wiped away her tears with her baju kurung sleeves.

Her fisherman husband drowned at sea off Kota Kinabalu last August and since then she has had to fend for her family.

Hers is among 92 families from around Ranau district who have sought shelter at the centre in the past week following the mudslides that washed down debris into Sungai Liwagu, threatening flash floods at the villages downstream.