PENANG COMES TO A STANDSTILL
Houses in more than 100 locations inundated
TENS of thousands of Penang folk woke up to massive flash floods triggered by an overnight downpour that crippled many parts of the state yesterday.
Traffic on most main roads was paralysed as vehicles were submerged in floodwaters between 0.3m and 0.6m deep. More than 20 vehicles were stuck in the floodwaters.
Houses in more than 100 locations were flooded, some in chest-high floodwaters.
Rescuers evacuated 17 people, including eight children, who were trapped in their houses as heavy rain continued to pummel the state. Schools, markets and an old folks home were not spared. Thirteen senior citizens, four of whom were bedridden, were moved to the Caunter Hall Tua Pek Kong temple.
Floodwaters almost reached a casket at a funeral at a house in Taman Lumba Kuda, Batu Gantung.
A villager, known only as Tan, in his 60s, said it was the worst flood to hit the state since 1995.
“Everything happened so fast. The skies were clear when I woke up at 6am today (yesterday). In less than an hour, the floodwaters had risen to hip-level.”
Among the worst-hit areas on the island were Jalan Kebun Lama, Jalan Masjid Negeri, Parit Lumba Kuda, Jalan Langkawi, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kampung Masjid, Kampung Makam, Jalan Kampung Jawa, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Kampung Paya, Kampung Nelayan, Kampung Sulup, Persiaran Relau, Taman Iping, Jalan Tengah Pondok Upeh and Taman Seri Indah.
Areas affected on the mainland were Mak Mandin, Jalan Bagan Jermal, Jalan Permatang Pauh, Taman Cantek, Jalan Bukit Tengah, Jalan Jelawat, Taman Senangin, Bertam Indah, Jalan Ong Yi How, Taman Bunga Raya, Kampung Bagan Jaya, Kampung Simpah, Lorong Perusahaan, Jalan Thamby Kechik, Bagan Dalam and Kampung Sethu.
There was no electricity in Bandar Baru Air Itam after smoke was seen coming from a substation.
Near the Taman Thean Teik substation, a couple was spotted on a rooftop. Their house was almost submerged.
Forty people from 19 families in Teluk Kumbar, and a senior citizen from Mak Mandin, were evacuated to a temporary shelter. They have since returned home.
Penang Civil Defence Department director Pang Ah Leh said they had placed members on alert and vehicles, including lorries and boats, were deployed to affected areas.
Trees were uprooted and four landslips were reported on the island. At the parking lot of the Kayangan Puri Mutiara Apartment in Medan Fettes here, six cars were buried in a mud avalanche.
Several flights to and from the Penang International Airport were delayed. A Rapid Penang bus was caught in floodwaters.
At press time, a woman, 29, was reported missing after she fell off her motorcycle and was swept away by strong currents in Jalan Paya Terubong.
A Paya Terubong Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said the victim was believed to have fallen into a metre-deep drain.
“A search-and-rescue operation has been activated. We believe she may have been swept into a nearby river.”
State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow blamed the flash floods on the inter-monsoon phenomenon experienced by northern states.
Penang recorded the highest amount of rainfall in its history, which contributed to the floods.
At a press conference, Chow said the highest amount of rain was 270mm, measured yesterday at the Air Itam dam.
Netizens took to social media to vent their frustrations at the Penang government.
They poked fun at Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s now-famous saying, “Tak hujan tak banjir” (No rain, no floods).
Lim, who was at the same press conference, said the landslides that occurred in numerous areas yesterday “could be only considered as ‘real landslides’ only if traffic had been seriously impacted”.
He pointed to the landslide that occurred in Jalan Empangan Air Itam, a stretch where joggers would usually take to hike up the Air Itam dam.
“If that does not impact the traffic flow at the area, then it is not a real landslide, but the one in Air Itam is a real landslide.
“There could be others... I am not sure about Balik Pulau,” he said when asked on the severity of the flash floods.
A total of 154 flash floods victims, including 52 children, spent the night at a temporary flood relief centre in Dewan Gerakan Masyarakat, Teluk Kumbar here, last night.
They are being cared for by the Civil Defence Department and other related agencies.
Policemen directing traffic in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penang, yesterday.