Lesson from massive flood


1. Kelantan, the northeastern state experiences the worst ever flood in many years. The tragedy evokes many devastating images on Facebook. I stayed for 16 years in Kubang Kerian, behind the royal palace or infamously known as Istana Air Mata. Never before my house was flooded since Kubang Kerian was considered a safe haven. There is a river behind HUSM which runs along To Guru’s house in Pulau Melaka that eventually meets the South China Sea. Not uncommon to see the river overflows; covering the nearby fish pond during monsoon seasons.

2. Dr. Newton, the old friend of mine, used to bring me to his house, near Kelantan river mouth. To get to his house, I have to travel via Pengkalan Chepa airport and turn left into narrow, impoverished village roads. More often than not, I would witness families with small children, watching plane; arrival and departure, near airport runaway, experiencing fresh breeze of northeastern wind, directly from the sea.

3. Recent disaster is unthinkable. I am sad because I can’t help the people the way many volunteers do by going to the ground zero and provide direct help to people building their lives which have shattered by the disaster. I know there are many volunteers risking their life and comfort, helping flood victims without expecting any rewards and adulation.

4. I believe major disaster like this has multifactorial origin; be it internal or external. Web search has shown massive deforestation in Dabong, Galas, Manik Urai and Lojing. I guess, putting all together, they are as huge as Perlis state. I wonder who is responsible for awarding logging permit and making sure the company logs within the permitted area? Deforestation leads to collected water run downhill quickly overflowing rivers, stream and eventually low lying towns and villages. No time for water absorption as the catchment areas have long gone and perish. Deforestation theory is justified by the presence of tea colored flood water, thick mud and dust as well as massive logs stranded in front of dilapidated houses, in the aftermath of the calamity.

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5. I was made to understand that this year phenomenon was made worse due to increasing sea tides, resulting from increasing distance between the earth and the moon. 

6. A large amount of rain falls over a short period of time contributes to the flood as many clogged drains can’t cater the excess water volume in the state that is infamously known for having poor irrigations system. 

7. Precautionary measures should include developing early warning system and enhance weather forecast ability. Short-term plans include building temporary shelters, giving physical and psychological first aids and post-trauma management.

8.  Mid-term plans include building schools, hospitals, and flood relief centers on the high ground especially in flood-prone areas and concerted effort to clear clogged drain and stream. Helicopter landing pads must be built in rural hospitals. First aids, communication and logistic equipment procurement, abundant food supply must be ready during monsoon months.

9. Definitive long-term measures include building dams, developing proper flood mitigating system like dredging and deepening river mouth. Training of human resources like lifesavers, paramedics, security and health personnel must be made available throughout the year. They have to be put on alert when the flood struck every year ends. Strong leadership and command will eventually lead to a remarkable success.

10. Afforestation must become top agenda even if it might have a financial risk in return for environmental gain.

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