The big floods evoked a myriad of feelings

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The Star

The Star

On the 4th and 5th of November this year, Penang experienced the most serious flood for the past 30 years. 80% of the state was flooded and 130 cases of landslide were reported. In many areas trees fell and blocked the roads. There were also incidents of double-storey wooden houses which collapsed, water filtration station destroyed and more than 100 people trapped on the Penang Hill. All these incidents evoked feelings of helplessness, grief, disappointment and strong emotions striking deep into the hearts and souls of all Penangites.

 

Helplessness

 

An old folks’ home was flooded and the residents were soaked in the water while waiting to be rescued. Some of the old folks were drowned and the flood had claimed 7 lives.

 

A 16 year-old teenager was nearly swept away by the currents but was grabbed by the mother in time. The daughter feared for her mother’s safety too so she begged her mother to let her go.

 

A child who returned home after the floodwaters subsided started crying after seeing his house in a mess. “My house …my house…. I want my house back.…”

 

Grief

 

An 87 year-old woman who lost her husband two months ago now had to face the onslaught of the floods. She could only cried in grief more.

 

It was bad to be struck by floods but in Province Wellesley an old widow suffered more. Her necklace given by her late husband was snatched by two robbers who pretended to be relief workers. The incident made her never to trust anyone who claimed to be relief or social workers.

 

Signed

 

After the floods, many things happened in the affected areas. Some victims complained they did not receive any aid yet and some were very angry because the aid was hijacked by those who were not flood victims at all.

 

Initially it was good news when the parties from both political divide declared that they would work together to help the flood victims. However the effort turned sour after a DAP leader accused MCA Youth leader Chong Sin Woon of hijacking the credits provided by the Tzu Chi Foundation in the relief operation.

 

In the beginning the concerned parties promised not to politicize the flood disaster and to put aside their political differences to help the flood victims. Isn’t it true? Why did it become a verbal war accusing each other of grabbing the credits? In fact the two political divide should channel their energy to help the victims rather than wasting time quarrelling over petty issue. It is better for them to speed up their effort in providing aid to the flood victims, isn`t it?

 

Touching

 

As a Penangite, I was moved by the volunteerism spirit of the unsung heroes, relief workers, army and social workers from all over Malaysia who rushed to the flooded areas to give help.

 

These volunteers, social workers and unsung heroes sacrificed their personal interests, work and leisure to cook and clean the houses of the flood victims. Likewise the generous donations by those who can afford or physical workforce given by volunteers made us aware of the humanitarian spirit in the society was very much alive against the merciless natural disaster.

 

After going through the scenes of helplessness, grief, signed and touching moments, my deepest impression was on the inner feelings of a particular flood victim.

 

This victim said the Penang state government had disbursed RM400 as a financial aid to the flood victims in the September flood but he never registered himself for the monetary aid. Instead he wanted the state government to use the money to carry out the flood mitigation projects.

 

His action conveyed the message and wishes of the Penang people: “We want flood mitigation projects to be carried out. If the floods cannot be avoided, the situation should not become more and more serious until the people live in fear once it starts pouring.”

 

According to the Penang state Exco Chow Kon Yeow, in the official statistics from October 15th 2013, there were 119 incidents of flood and the recent big flood topped it to 120 in Penang.

 

The problem is whether the state and federal government are able to let go their differences, focus in the flood mitigation projects and not throwing the blame to each other? Can the state government regress or adjust their next year budget again? Instead of spending RM275 million to build 82 badminton courts, why not spend it on flood mitigation projects?

Original Source: 大水災的甜酸苦辣