It’s a dark and gloomy month for many Malaysians. The rain came fast and mercilessly — and left us to deal with the aftermath, confused and resigned. We were left to pick up the pieces of what could have been avoided if we were informed beforehand.
So much was happening that it was a little overwhelming. Some of us were fortunate enough to just go through the rain while others had a tougher time. Their houses were submerged in water, their cars left stranded on the streets, even the people themselves were scrambling to take shelter as water levels continued to rise at an alarming speed.
With all that happening last week, we are now cleaning up and trying to rebuild what’s left after the flood. Going through this disaster certainly taught us a thing or two. So, let’s unpack what we learnt from it all, shall we?
How It All Started
First of all, let’s look at where it started — the rain.
Heavy rain and the possibility of a flood aren’t anything new to us. After all, it happens every year, doesn’t it? But what wasn’t expected was for it to turn out this bad. So, we all went about our day going to work, going out, and were generally oblivious of what was to come. We all thought it was just another rainy day.
When the rain didn’t stop was what worried people. The highways started to pile up with cars as they tried to avoid huge puddles that appeared on the roads. While that was happening, people a few hours away were alarmed when their houses started to fill up with water. In just a few short hours, everything was submerged and people were left climbing to their roofs for safety.
My question is, could all of this have been avoided?
It Could Have Been Avoided If…
Yes. Yes, it could have. Like any other country, don’t we have a risk management plan for something like this? If a flood were to ever happen, we could have been fully prepared for it, or at least be able to control it enough that the damage is minimised.
We were even warned five months ago by Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah about taking action to prepare for the oncoming monsoon season. Unfortunately, it was just brushed aside by the other members of parliament.
We were told not to worry about any flood issues since we’re not a country that’s affected by climate change, which I find rather odd since climate change affects any place with a climate, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Another issue that was brought up was by the Lawyers For Environmental Rights group. They claimed the impact of the recent heavy rains and floods could have been reduced if the state government put a stop to deforestation. Because they had cut down a lot of trees to build houses, estates and malls, there aren’t any forests left to block water from entering the grounds.
Let’s be real here. Objectively, are we blaming anyone for this? For the most part, yes. We’re angry at the people in charge of this country for not taking quicker action. The public had to take care of themselves before the government even acknowledged that the flood was serious. The Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri has since apologised and admitted that the government’s flood management plans would need improvement.
There were no contingency plans that were put into action after figuring out that the rain wasn’t letting up and water was rising above normal levels. The public didn’t receive any warnings from higher ups to prepare for the possibility of a flood, let alone any other kind of natural disaster.
It made me realise that we’re probably grossly undertrained for these kinds of situations, really.
We learnt that to initiate a rescue, a launching party has to be made beforehand, otherwise how would anyone know that the government’s doing their job? They sent out supposed “search parties” to help, but with their boats already filled to the brim with their photographers and bodyguards, who else can fit in it?
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry on behalf of my brothers and sisters that are affected by the flood and are being treated as a media stunt to help win votes. Honestly, what gives you the right to turun padang and observe when you’re not providing urgent help?
We also learnt that we are completely unprepared for natural disasters. It’s worrying because although there are so many emergency escape plans listed for the country, the art of practicality doesn’t apply here.
There are safety drills for when your house, school, and office are on fire, but what about when there’s a flash flood? Or a tornado, a typhoon, etc? Are we truly prepared for any of this?
And even if we have those plans, what’s the point if they don’t run smoothly in the event of an actual disaster? We were told that the floodgates at Taman Sri Muda were jammed, hence why the water was receding at a lower rate than normal. And the response from official rescue teams was a little…slow, to say the least. So, the rakyat had to step up and turun padang themselves.
The Embodiment of #KitaJagaKita
Sigh. As if living in a pandemic isn’t enough.
But let’s not take this all in bad light. We actually get to see the real meaning of #KeluargaMalaysia. By that, I mean how we, the rakyat, all banded together, yet again, to help those in need.
It’s times like these when we see who actually cares for us. We see people offering to clean up the houses of flood victims, people volunteering to search and rescue those who were still stuck inside their homes, others donating clothes and mattresses, helping out with cooking food, and a lot more!
For those of us that aren’t that affected by the rain, I urge you to lend a hand to your friends that are in dire need of help. Even offering them a listening ear is enough. They’re trying to grasp the reality that they’ve lost loved ones in the flood and are forced to deal with the tragedy that comes afterwards. So, do your best to make them feel at ease, yeah? Help them out in any way you can.
We’ve proven time and time again that we can count on ourselves. So in the event of another flood or other natural disasters in the future, I urge you to educate yourselves on what you can do to minimise the damage. If we can’t prevent them from happening, the least we can do is make sure we’re not hit as badly as last time.
Help Where You Can
In the meantime, if you’re in need of a way to fix your vehicles or electronics, or need help with cleaning your house after the flood, prospectsasia on Instagram has combined a list of some places that can help you.
Now, as we’re left to clean up the aftermath of the flood and prepare ourselves for the next year that’s literally a few days away, please remember that there are still people out there that need your help.
If you’re unsure of where to start, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can help: