Malaysia: Flash floods bring Penang to its knees on Deepavali

PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: For the second time in two months, flash floods brought Penang to its knees, halting traffic and submerging homes in various parts of the city.

The floods, which have become a perennial problem on the island, also meant that a bleak Deepavali was on the cards for the Hindu community.

In Jalan P. Ramlee and arterial roads at Bandar Baru Air Itam, more than 100 houses were submerged in knee-deep water, forcing residents to salvage whatever they can.

Several roads in Lebuhraya Thean Teik and Jalan Thean Teik were also badly flooded, leaving dozens of cars submerged and their owners ruing the damages.

Floods waters also struck Jalan Masjid Negeri, one of the island's main arterial roads. Water levels rose quickly, reducing traffic to a crawl. Several cars which later attempted to brave the flood waters ended up stalled halfway.

The water also seeped into the common area on the ground floor at a densely-populated block of flats in Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Among the areas affected by flash floods were Jalan Paya Terubong and Taman Lumba Kuda.

An uprooted tree also reportedly hit a parked vehicle at Jalan Patani.

The rain started about 3pm. Flood waters rose quickly and reached waist level at several places at flood-prone places in Jalan P Ramlee and its vicinity.

A grim atmosphere was evident as residents waded through the floods to salvage their belongings and transfer their household items to higher ground.

The entire section of the road was cordoned off, as residents at the nearby Sungai Pinang residential area chipped in to help the affected residents.

A dejected Mohamad Rafiq Jalil, 46, who lives off Jalan P. Ramlee, lamented the losses he has to endure each time flash floods hit his neighborhood.

Rafiq vented his fury on the state government and local authorities, whom he claimed tended to shift the blame on Mother Nature for the floods.

"I am tired of hearing repeated excuses from the state government, attributing the flash floods to the so-called 'King' Tide and tidal change pattern.

"Nothing has been done to mitigate the flash floods for far too long, I am saddened that the analysis and much-politicised flood mitigation schemes have come to nothing," he said.

Another resident, S. Rajasekaran, 62, said he is at his wits' end. He claimed he has given up hope that Penang's flood problems will be resolved in his lifetime.

"I doubt the state government knows what it's doing, we suffer each time it pours.

"Our plight has fallen on deaf ears and there is no way we can recover the hefty losses due to the damages over the years," he said.

Meanwhile, a near tragedy was averted when a landslip occurred at a hillslope in Paya Terubong behind several high-rise buildings.

The loose earth came crashing down the hillslope and missed several parked cars.

The downpour petered out by 8pm. There has been no word yet on the extent of the damages.

Last month, floods hit Bayan Baru, leaving residents scrambling for safety.

Environment civil liberties group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) had then urged the Penang government to investigate and take immediate action to resolve the flash floods problem.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris had claimed that its survey showed that rapid development and failure of the drainage system to function effectively during heavy rain had triggered the flash floods.

Environmental groups had also blamed rampant development as among the factors for the floods. Flash floods had also submerged parts of Penang in May and July.

Heavy rains, flash floods, make for a miserable Deepavali in Penang
PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Continuous heavy rainfall has put a damper on Deepavali celebrations here today, with flash floods hitting many low-lying areas of the city.

Rising waters have reached knee-level at flood-prone locations such as Jalan P Ramlee and its vicinity, as well as the highly-populated Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Flood waters have reportedly streamed into the ground floors of high-density flats in Bandar Baru Air Itam.

At Lebuhraya Thean Teik and Jalan Masjid Negeri, two of the city’s main arterial roads, flash floods have reduced traffic to a crawl.

Cars have stalled along flooded roads, and residents could be seen wading through rising waters. An uprooted tree is reported to have crashed onto a parked vehicle at Jalan Patani.

No one has been reported displaced or injured so far.

Three-hour rain triggers traffic woes and disruption in hill railway services

GEORGE TOWN: The Deepavali celebration was cut short for many Hindu families after a heavy rain swept though many parts of the island.

Lawyer Dev Kumaraendran said traffic was especially bad in Jalan Masjid Negeri after a flood occurred in the area yesterday.

“The plastic barricades placed along the road were floating around because of the flood water and this worsened the traffic congestion.

“We were travelling back from George Town to Jalan Masjid Negeri after watching a movie and doing some Deepavali shopping,” he said when contacted.

Consumers Association of Penang education officer N.V. Subbarow said Hindus celebrating Deepavali in Penang were angry at the floods but not the rain.

“People who want to visit their friends in the late evening were either stuck at home or on the road due to poor flood management system.”

Sungai Air Hitam burst its banks causing the water to spill into several major roads such as Jalan Masjid Negeri and Scotland Road.

A check on the Public InfoBanjir website of the Department of Drainage and Irrigation (DID) found that the Sungai Pinang water level was at 2.89m, exceeding the danger level at 6pm yesterday.

Traffic came to a standstill at several low-lying grounds in the state.

Among the worst hit were Lebuhraya Thean Teik and Jalan Thean Teik in Bandar Baru Air Itam where water rose to knee-level.

Engineer M.H. Wong, 34, said the water reached knee-level at about 5pm in Lebuhraya Thean Teik.

“I was stuck in a traffic jam in front of All Seasons Place for more than an hour. Traffic has never been bad along this road.”

Air Itam assemblyman Wong Hon Wai when contacted said firemen were on site to assist traffic and assess the flood situation.

Landslides also occurred within a 50m stretch along the hilly road leading to the Air Itam Dam as well as Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Hikers were told to descend the hill on foot and to leave their vehicles behind on the hill as the road was impassable to traffic.

The Penang Hill funicular train services were also interrupted for several minutes after a tree branch fell on the track. It was later removed by firemen and services resumed.

Floods were also reported in Jalan P. Ramlee, Taman Lumba Kuda and Jalan Paya Terubong,

Major traffic congestion was also seen in Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway following an accident where a car overturned near Bayan Mutiara in Bayan Lepas.

Heavy traffic was also spotted in Lebuh Bukit Jambul, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Jalan Tengku Kudin, Jalan Hamilton, Jalan Bagan Jermal, Jalan Datuk Keramat and Jalan Free School.

State DID in a statement said about 600 people from 300 homes were affected by the flood following three hours of continuous rain from 4.30pm in the northeast district of Penang but there was no evacuation.

“The floods were caused by an unsystematic drainage system,” the statement said, adding that the system needed to be upgraded and the developments closely monitored.

Flash floods are becoming a normal occurrence in Penang with the worst being reported in July.

Teluk Bahang residents said that was one of the worst flash floods in recent years, with about 300 houses affected by the rising waters.

A total of 12 flights were rescheduled at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas.

On Oct 18, heavy rain lasting more than two hours coupled with the king tide phenomenon resulted in Kampung Manis, Prai, and the Telok Ipil, Nibong Tebal, on the mainland being inundated by 3.1m of water.

In September, about 45 homes were damaged when it flooded in Kampung Dodol, Kampung Makam, Jalan Singora, Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Air Terjun. A 20-year-old Nepali plantation worker was crushed to death after an oil palm tree fell on him during the four-hour rainstorm.

Flooding causes Penang traffic standstill
CHRISTOPHER TAN The Star 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Traffic came to a standstill after a downpour swept through several areas in Penang, including Bandar Baru Air Itam, Bayan Lepas and Air Itam.

Rising water levels were also recorded at Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Zoo in Air Itam and Scotland Road.

Engineer M.H Wong said that the water reached knee-level at about 5pm in Lebuhraya Thean Teik.

"I was stuck in a traffic jam in front of All Seasons Place for more than an hour,” he said when contacted.

Nine rescued after landslide in Penang
The Star 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Nine people were trapped in a temple and in a car due to a landslide in Air Itam here.

The landslide – which happened at about 6.28pm – took place on the route towards the Air Itam dam near a Buddhist temple.

Nine firemen were deployed to the scene and all four who were trapped in a car were successfully rescued.

However, those present at the temple refused to leave.

"The Fire and Rescue Department received a call from one of the victims trapped We had deployed our officers and due to heavy rain and traffic gridlock, we had arrived at the scene at 7.46pm," said the fire and rescue spokesperson in a statement.

Authorities had confirmed that the area was safe and not in danger as rescue operation ended at 8.09pm. - Bernama

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