Malaysia: Terengganu district experiencing worst flood in 30 years, say residents

BERNAMA New Straits Times 1 Jan 17;

KUALA BERANG: Floods sweeping the state constituency of Telemong have been described by residents as the worst in 30 years.

For Isa Kassim, 65, of Kampung Kuala Ping, the deluge reminded him of another major flood in 1986.

"At that time, my children were still young, ranging from one to four years. I waded through flood waters carrying my three children, while my wife had to struggle with flood waters up to her neck.

"At that time, my family and I evacuated at 9pm, as we did not expect the water to rise so fast. Only Allah knows how we fought the swift waters to save our children," he said when met by Bernama here yesterday.

Isa, who is a retired civil servant, said at that time, facilities were still lacking and many villagers had to seek shelter at the nearest neighbour’s or relative's house.

"I moved to my uncle's house. We stayed and ate at his house, as there were no evacuation facilities then.

"The flood today is even bigger than in 1986. The water rose very fast. In less than two hours, water had entered our house. But we decided to move earlier, for fear the water would rise further," he said.

Teh Mamat, 78, of Kampung Tengkawang, said she could not save her things in her house as she was away, visiting her son in Felcra Bukit Kepah.

"My neighbours phoned me, but I was not in the house then and could not salvage anything. The flood is quite bad. In 2014, it was not like that," she said.

Teh said despite having to evacuate to a relief centre, she is content, as the facilities provided are adequate and comfortable.

"In the past, we were forced to move into any neighbour’s or relative's house which was not affected. Today, everything is provided at the shelter," she said.

A Bernama survey at the constituency found evacuation and rescue operations are still being carried out.

Firemen and Civil Defence Force personnel equipped with boats were seen assisting victims to move to relief centres. --BERNAMA

With parts of east coast under water, Kedah braces for floods
BERNAMA New Straits Times 1 Jan 17;

ALOR SETAR: Kedah is ready to face any eventuality should floods occur, with preparations already made and areas most at risk having been identified.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said government agencies involved in disaster management have been instructed to be in a state of preparedness in facing the possibility of floods. "Agencies like the District Office, the Civil Defence Force and the Social Welfare Department (JKM) have been told to take immediate action to evacuate victims to safe locations in the event of floods.

"We have also asked JKM to coordinate the food supply depot and basic necessities for flood victims in each district if floods occur," he said after visiting Sekolah Kebangsaan Mergong, here, in conjunction with the first day of the 2017 new school session.

Low-lying and flood-prone areas in the state include the districts of Kubang Pasu, Padang Terap, Kota Setar, Yan, Pendang and Kuala Muda. --BERNAMA

Prepare for floods, Zahid tells states
The Star 2 Jan 17;

JELI: People in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak must be prepared to face floods from now until March.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was because floods would normally hit from December during the monsoon season, but this time, it started this month.

The Federal Government would continue to monitor and assist the five states, he said during a meeting with flood victims at the evacuation centre at SMK Ayer Lanas here yesterday.

Bernama reported him as saying that the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) was formed to manage a disaster in a more organised manner.

Later in Hulu Terengganu, Dr Ahmad Zahid said early preparations by Nadma and continuous flood simulation exercises involving villagers had prevented any flood-related deaths during the current flood season.

“The early preparations and exercises have also reduced damage to personal belongings and properties this time around.

“Nadma has also ensured there are adequate food at evacuation centres and forward bases,” he said after visiting flood victims at the Kampung Bukit Tadok relief centre.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said Nadma was also ensuring that all flood-prone areas would receive early warning on rising floodwaters.

He said the flood situation was worse in Terengganu compared to Kelantan.

The number of flood victims in Kelantan fell to 944 from 263 families as at 4pm yesterday, Bernama reported.

Two ailing senior citizens were among 239 flood evacuees taking shelter at SMK Ayer Lanas in Jeli.

Che Idris Che Muhamood, 90, and Annuar Husien, 60, who was suffering from a stroke, were evacuated after their houses were inundated by floodwaters.

“My husband and one of my children had to take turns to carry my father as he could no longer walk, besides being visually impaired, since five years ago.

“We have to evacuate after the floodwaters rose to the knee before rising to waist level in late afternoon,” Che Idris’ daughter, Che Minah, 40, said.

Annuar’s wife, Halimah Ahmad, 55, said she and her 25-year-old son faced the same situation as they had to carry her husband for about 500m before reaching the relief centre.

11 schools to remain closed due to floods
The Star 2 Jan 17;

HULU TERENGGANU: The second day of the new school term today will see 11 schools in Terengganu remain closed due to floods.

A total of 1,708 students and teachers are affected by the closure.

State Education Department di­­rec­tor Shafruddin Ali Hussin said out of the 11, eight were in Hulu Terengganu while the rest were in Setiu.

On Saturday, Shafruddin announ­ced that 25 schools in Terengganu would not be able to start its first day of classes.

“Parents will be informed on the status of schools affected by the flood at about 3pm daily.

“We have a special squad to monitor the floods and all information will be passed down to the department.

“Based on all information, the department decided that the 11 schools will stay closed until further notice,” he said.

At SK Sentol Patah, Marang, parents and teachers were among those who cleaned up the school in a gotong-royong after water receded.

In Kuala Berang, Bernama reported that 32 pupils of SK Getang had to return home early at 10am when their class was inundated after Sungai Telemong burst its banks.

Headmistress Hayati Osman said she had not expected the water to rise rapidly and enter the classrooms.

“We had to move the pre-school pupils and the special education pupils to the hall and canteen while the others were placed in the double-storey building which was not flooded,” she told reporters yesterday.

Hayati said in less than an hour, water from the river had rose to waist level.

“When I saw the situation had deteriorated, I telephoned the district education officer to inform him about the incident and later called the guardians of the pre-school pu­­pils to fetch their children,” she said.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the Government would consider keeping schools closed in flood-hit areas until further notice.

“We will advise them accordingly once reports come in,” he told re­­por­­ters in Subang, Selangor, yesterday after launching the World Dra­gon and Lion Dance Extrava­ganza.

Floods in Kelantan and Terengganu force evacuations, school closures
Channel NewsAsia 1 Jan 17;

KOTA BHARU, Malaysia: The number of flood evacuees in Terengganu and Kelantan decreased slightly to 3,261 and 944 respectively on Sunday (Jan 1), as flood waters receded and evacuees were allowed to return home.

According to the Social Welfare Department's flood information portal, 43 relief centres remain in operation in Terengganu state, while 23 remain open in Kelantan.

"All the evacuation centres in Kuala Krai, Jeli and Tanah Merah currently showed a declining trend although the evacuation centres have not been closed (even though) the victims decided to return home after the weather turned better this afternoon," said Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) Kelantan director Zainuddin Hussin.

He added that flood evacuation centres might be opened in several other districts including Pasir Mas and Tumpat later as the river water began to flow to these areas.

The flooding is a seasonal phenomenon in Malaysia, where east coast states face heavy rainfall at the end of almost every year.

This year, it has resulted in school closures in Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor, where the new school term began on Jan 1.

22 out of 501 primary and secondary schools in Terengganu delayed the start of their new term as the roads leading to the schools were flooded. Other schools had been turned into evacuation centres. The floods also forced 16 primary schools in Kelantan to be closed.

In Johor, four schools on islands like Pulau Aur and Pulau Tinggi could not start their new school term due to rough seas.

The Marine Department had earlier issued a big wave warning and stopped small vessels from taking passengers to the islands since Friday, leaving the teachers stranded on the mainland.

"Rough seas since Friday forced 37 teachers to delay their journeys to the schools, but the schools are expected to commence their sessions on Tuesday, depending on the sea condition," Johor state education director Shaharudin Sharif said.