PE­NANG COMES TO A STAND­STILL

Houses in more than 100 lo­ca­tions in­un­dated

New Straits Times - - News / Story Of The Day - AU­DREY DERMAWAN AND MO­HAMED BASYIR GE­ORGE TOWN news@nst.com.my

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.

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PIC BY DA­NIAL SAAD

Po­lice­men di­rect­ing traf­fic in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Pe­nang, yes­ter­day.

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