Keeping their heads above wa­ter

Fam­ily de­vises plans and mod­i­fies home to pro­tect them­selves

The Star Malaysia - - Front Page - By JO TIMBUONG jo.timbuong@thes­

The Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Dept says heavy rains are com­ing soon and with th­ese, floods too. Vic­tims, who have en­dured the wrath of the north­east mon­soon winds for years, aren’t ly­ing low. They are pre­par­ing them­selves in ways they can to ward off any catas­tro­phe this time around.

PETALING JAYA: Like many oth­ers in Sabah, floods have been a bur­den to the Kotibens.

But this time around, the fam­ily of seven has a plan.

Af­ter see­ing many trea­sured and sen­ti­men­tal items get dam­aged by the wa­ters over the years, they have de­vised a way to ward off the wrath of na­ture.

“Nat­u­rally, my par­ents are in charge of di­vid­ing up the tasks and we will move in like clock­work,” said Jenny Kotiben.

The 27-year-old ac­counts ex­ec­u­tive has been in the thick of it at least 10 times in about 20 years.

Jenny and her broth­ers will work to­gether to help their par­ents move items to higher ground at their dou­ble-storey house in Inanam, Sabah.

As soon as the rainy sea­son be­gins, the fam­ily will look out for news on ris­ing wa­ters and check so­cial me­dia for any floods oc­cur­ring nearby.

Be­fore the sit­u­a­tion wors­ens, her broth­ers, most of whom are mar­ried and have their fam­i­lies of their own, will be called back home to help lift house­hold items to the top floor.

Those that can­not be moved will be stacked on higher lev­els.

Jenny said if the whole fam­ily was back in full force, they would be able to get the work done in about two hours.

“But if we are short-handed, we will try to get most items up even ear­lier,” said Jenny.

“There was a year when it was only my mother and youngest brother at home when the floods hit.

“But we still man­aged to move things up very quickly,” she said.

The fam­ily has also made some ren­o­va­tions to the home.

They have el­e­vated the garage area and im­prov­ing the sur­round­ing drainage sys­tem to bet­ter pre­vent wa­ters from en­ter­ing.

Mean­while, Fel­cra set­tler Mohd Ros­maini Abd Sa­mat said he too ren­o­vated his home to add an at­tic to store items away from flood wa­ters.

“We started mov­ing some things in early November just as the north-eastern mon­soon be­gan.

“We’ll leave the big­ger ap­pli­ances like the re­frig­er­a­tor and wash­ing ma­chine un­til much later,” he said.

In his 10 years liv­ing at Fel­cra PPSK Gu­nung Men­erong, Ajil, Tereng­ganu, Mohd Ros­maini has ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing three times.

“The worst was in 2014 and I even lost my pet doves in that flood,” said the 37-year-old fa­ther of four.

He said set­tlers in the area would help each other to bring items up to higher lev­els.

“Af­ter all that, we will just wait for the au­thor­i­ties’ in­struc­tions to evac­u­ate our homes,” he said.

Del­uge de­fences:The Kotiben fam­ily home with its newly el­e­vated garage area, built to keep back floods that have hit in the past (left).

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