Malaysia: The east is set to get wet

razak ahma d, sira habibu, zazali musa, yee xiang yun, ong ha n se n, and geryl og ilvy The Star 10 Nov 17;

PETALING JAYA: Even before the clean-up of the big floods in Penang can be wrapped up, the country is bracing for more floods. The north-east monsoon is likely to arrive in less than a week, bringing heavy rains until January in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, east Johor and west Sarawak.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) warned that low-lying or flood-prone areas in these states were at risk in the event of continuous rain lasting several days.

The country is expected to enter the north-east monsoon from the middle of November to March next year.

If continuous heavy rains occur at the same time as high tide, then the risks of flooding will be higher, MetMalaysia director-general Alui Bahari said in an e-mail response to questions.

He said the episodes were expected to happen in Kelantan and Terengganu from this month to December. From then to January, heavy rains are expected in Pahang and east Johor.

In January, heavy rains were expected to be more focused in west Sarawak, said Alui.

According to the MetMalaysia website, there are four seasons in Malaysia, namely the south-west monsoon (May to September), north-east monsoon (November to March), and the inter-monsoon periods.

Johor has already had a taste of what is coming when heavy rain led to flash floods in parts of Pontian yesterday.

Johor Health, Environment, Information and Education committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat, however, said they were well prepared for any floods.

He said there were regular meetings held involving various groups including the state Civil Defence Department, Fire and Rescue Department, local authorities, district officers and non-governmental organisations.

“It is important to reach out to the people, especially those living in flood-prone areas, and ensure they are ready to face the floods,’’ said Ayub.

He advised residents living in low lying areas not to take things for granted as floods were annual occurrences in several parts of Johor.

“However, the flood patterns might change from year to year, depending on the amount of rainfall and how long it rains,’’ added Ayub.

In Kelantan, more than 8,000 personnel from various agencies are on standby to provide assistance in case of floods.

State secretary Datuk Mohd Faudzi Che Mamat said they had set up a multi-agency taskforce to maximise resources to quickly assist flood victims.

The Kelantan authorities have prepared 163 relief centres to accommodate 20,000 flood victims.

“We have already started stocking food supplies in 216 bases covering all the districts in Kelantan,” he said.

Pahang state secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail said the state’s disaster committee was not expecting major floods this year. However, it has taken extra precautions after what happened in Penang and Kedah.

He said all supplies had been ordered to be sent to forward bases statewide beginning Nov 15.

“We are just expecting normal floods this year but due to what happened in Penang and Kedah, we are making some extra effort. We are preparing as though there will be big floods,” he said.

Sarawak state Fire and Rescue Department director Nor Hisham Mohd said they were fully prepared for any floods that may occur. He said 1,181 personnel were put on standby with 590 on duty anytime round the clock.

The state also has 43 volunteer firefighter units comprising 2,100 members. All 29 fire station units across Sarawak have been divided into seven zones – Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang – for better coordination and efficient mobilisation.

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