Malaysia floods: Picking up the pieces

There he sat on the porch.

On the surface, he looked pensive.

But a closer look showed tears welling in his eyes.

For Mr Muhammad Noor Said, 86, a retired rubber tapper and father of nine, the porch was the only thing that remained of his house.

"I lost all hope when I saw that my house had been destroyed. I built this house with my own two hands," he said of the kampung home he had built in 1967.

Kuala Krai, Kelantan, is one of the worst hit towns after several states were inundated in one of the worst floods in Malaysia in 30 years. Other states include Terengganu and Pahang.

At least 21 people have been killed and eight others are missing, Malaysian police said yesterday.

Almost a quarter of a million people have been displaced, reported AFP.

The devastation at Mr Muhammad Noor's village, Manik Urai, on the outskirts of Kuala Krai and almost 100km from Kelantan's capital Kota Baru, is shocking.

The bridge into the village was littered with overturned cars when The New Paper visited it on Tuesday.

Mr Muhammad Noor and his wife, Mrs Mekembong Ibrahim, 66, were not at home when the flood waters swept into his village. On Dec 22, their son, Mr Zailani Muhammad Noor, had taken them to his house in the nearby village of Machang.

Mr Zailani, 41, a retired army personnel, said: "I heard the situation was getting dangerous (in Manik Urai), so I felt they would be safer with me.

"Every now and then we would go back and check on the house but the last few days, the waters were too high. Then on Monday, we finally got a proper look and the house was gone. It's very sad because this is the house I grew up in."

As Mr Muhammad Noor sat quietly, his wife was busy picking through what was left of their house to see what she could salvage.


She had earlier accepted a donation, with tears running down her face, of clothes from some of the volunteer aid workers streaming into the village.

"I'm touched by some of the help that is coming in," said Mrs Mekembong.

"Right now though, I'm just at a loss of what to do. I don't even know how I'm going to send my grandkids to school - their uniforms were all destroyed in the floods," she added.

Moments later, a volunteer dropped off a pile of new school uniforms and Mrs Mekembong quickly busied herself distributing the clothes to the village children.

Several times we heard the villagers compare the flood waters that devastated their villages to a tsunami.


We quickly understood why. Some houses were ripped from their foundation, while others were totally destroyed.

As we travelled through the town of Kuala Krai, we saw residents clearing shophouses of the mud that had settled.

"If there was running water, at least we can try to clean up the place properly," said Mrs Thilaga Poongavanam, 41.

She helps out at her husband's dental clinic and when we met her, she was cleaning up the clinic with buckets of water she had hauled from a nearby river.

"Everything that we have is gone," she said.

"We tried to save the dentist chairs by putting them on a table, but the water rose too high and now everything is gone."

Her husband, Dr Munusamy Rangkaswamy, has been the town's dentist for close to 30 years. Thankfully, their home in Kuala Krai, which is on higher ground, was unaffected.

Asked if she could make an insurance claim, she replied: "I don't know, all our insurance documents were in the clinic. Everything is gone, only the waiting room chairs are left."

This article was first published on January 1, 2015.
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