Malaysia all set for second wave of floods

KUALA LUMPUR - Government agencies in east coast states of the Peninsula have been put on 24-hour standby in preparation for a second wave of flooding.

Reports received by the National Security Council (NSC) stated that high tides in the east coast with a depth of 3.6m would occur between tomorrow and Saturday.

Terengganu NSC secretary Mohd Sarif Hassan said, should heavy rainfall similar to last week's hit the state, flood prone areas especially those in Kemaman, would be inundated again.

"If heavy rain coincides with the high tide, flood is expected to hit (low-lying) areas including in Kemaman and Kuantan (Pahang).

"However, it depends on the rainfall location. During last week's incident, the heavy rains mostly occurred in Kuantan."

Sarif said the council had taken several steps to improve flood response missions.

This included getting the cooperation of telecommunication companies to ensure the communication breakdown that happened last week would not recur.

"All agencies related to rescue and aid distribution operations, including the armed forces, police, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and Welfare Department, are on high alert to face the second wave, should it occur.

"The agencies had also prepared more land vehicles and boats to give a quicker response to victims, who had also been notified to be ready for evacuation.

"Besides that, we are going to have a meeting with telecommunication companies tomorrow to discuss a smooth communication network."

Sarif said the communication breakdown that occurred during the initial days of flooding had affected rescue and aid distribution missions.

The communication towers in several areas here were not functioning as electricity was cut off because of the floods.

Meanwhile, residents living in low-lying areas in Tumpat were fully prepared to face the second-wave of flood following a recent warning by the Meteorology Department.

Several of them said they had yet to clean their homes and belongings after the recent flood and would wait for the second wave before taking action.

"We cleaned only the important items for daily use while the rest remained on higher ground because we are afraid of another round of floods," said villagers from Kampung Simpangan Hilir, the most affected flood area in Tumpat.

In Kuantan, the authorities and victims of the floods which hit last week have begun preparations to face the second wave.

The floods, described as the worst since 2001, had forced more than 40,000 victims to be evacuated to relief centres with some forced to moved to a second centre after the existing premises were affected by flood waters.

Resident who suffered major losses in the floods also complained that there were delays in channeling assistance to flood victims in several areas while some claimed the centres faced a shortage of supplies.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob yesterday told reporters that all the relevant agencies were geared up to face the second wave.

"The state government is in the midst of fine-tuning their standard operating procedures (SOP) on ways to tackle the floods and we hope with the new SOP, we can overcome problems related to the disaster.

"Problems arose during the recent floods because of the large number of flood evacuees at relief centres.

"We have identified the problems and looked into suitable measures to overcome them, including sending food items to relief centres, overcoming the shortage of essentials and evacuating the victims to relief centres," he said at Yayasan Pahang after attending a post-mortem by the Pahang Disaster Relief Committee.

State police chief Datuk Sharifuddin Abdul Ghani said the force had stationed its personnel at flood-prone areas and also prepared to mobilise additional manpower and equipment in case of floods.

A state Fire and Rescue Department spokesman advised the public to be on the alert and keep themselves updated with the latest developments to ensure they were prepared to move.

"Those living in low-lying areas have been informed about the nearest relief centres, in case the floods return.

"Most of the evacuees who seemed lost during the floods last week are now well prepared.

"It is important that the victims do not panic and obey the instructions of the authorities," he said.

Most of the families whose homes were badly damaged in the floods, had already moved their valuables and furniture to higher structures.

Businessman Jamil Saidin, 34, who suffered losses of more than RM30,000 (S$11,640) in the recent floods, said he had already sent his wife and two children to a relative's house in Felda Jengka in Maran.

"Since there was a warning about another flood, I have also moved my belongings to a safer place and, fearing for the safety of my family members, I decided to send them to a relative's house," he said, adding that most people were not taking things for granted this time.