Penang slowly recovers from severe floods as the number of evacuees drop.
The situation in the flood-affected areas of Penang continued to improve, and the number of evacuees dropped to 3,482 as at 6am today compared to 5,729 overnight.
A spokesman of the Police Flood Operations Room said the evacuees were being housed at 25 relief centres in Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Tengah.
“Up to 2,588 evacuees are at 13 relief centred in Seberang Perai Utara and 894 at 12 centres in Seberang Perai Tengah,” he said.
The weather in Penang today is fine, he added.
The aftermath saw homes caked with slimy mud, with flood-damaged furniture and personal belongings discarded outside homes.
Many families lost almost everything.
Looking grim and resigned, people are tackling the daunting task of cleaning their homes with the aid of volunteers.
“Tzu Chi volunteers are the best, they are so efficient and they were the first ones to come and help us,” said an Air Itam resident, Mohamed Nizar Mohamed Ismail, 41, whose house was inundated in five-feet high flood waters, the Malay Mail Online reported.
“We usually help the elderly first, especially those who have no one else to help them or no children to help them,” one of the volunteers was quoted as saying.
Tai Chi Society volunteers were already distributing water and bread at flooded areas all over the state on Sunday morning.
Similarly, Amriteswari Foundation of Malaysia volunteers started giving out vegetarian meals cooked and supplied by local restaurant Ananda Bahwan on Sunday.
Kembara Kitchen is also on the ground providing relief efforts and will continue to cook up hot meals for those who need it until this Sunday.
Over on the mainland, in north Seberang Perai and central Seberang Perai, there were similar scenes of muddied roads and piles of broken and damaged household items while residents washed their houses.
Almost the whole of Penang was affected by floods following gale-force winds and heavy rain that struck the state from last Saturday, prompting Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to appeal for federal assistance.
The floods claimed seven lives and caused massive destruction to property, bringing Georgetown to a standstill.
Heartening and inspiring, the good that came out of the Penang floods was the coming together of people to help victims in their hour of need.
Yesterday, in announcing the Federal Government’s approval of RM150 million for flood mitigation projects in Penang, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the amount was part of RM1 billion worth of 13 projects identified in the DAP-governed state.
“We are ready to increase the amount depending on our financial capability,” he told reporters after visiting a temporary flood relief centre.
Najib also reminded the state government to be mindful of the impact of the environment when approving development projects.
“Avoid developments that can aggravate the environment,” he said.
He added that a meeting between Putrajaya and Penang to discuss details of the flood mitigation projects would be held soon.
“The projects will begin in stages and it will be completed in a couple of years,” he said.
“We will top up the allocations judging from the seriousness of the situation but the actual amount is subjected to further discussions,” he added.
Najib also announced the setting up of the Government-linked Companies Disaster Response Network (GDRN).
“GLC like Khazanah, Mas, Pharmaniaga, UEM and Axiata will contribute to the fund which will then be disbursed to the victims,” he said.
On complaints that warnings of floods were not forthcoming, Najib said the rain over the weekend was beyond initial estimations.
“One-and-a-half months rainfall in one day. Coupled with strong winds and water coming from Kedah…three unexpected elements happened at the same time,” he said.
Najib also praised the move by the surau and mosques in Penang that opened their doors to flood victims in the state to seek shelter regardless of religion and race.
On Nov 6, the media reported that the Taman Free School Surau in Georgetown had took in about 60 flood victims involving the Chinese and Indian communities living in the surrounding areas to seek refuge at the surau following the sudden rise in water level there.
A photograph of the surau with flood victims sitting inside went viral on social media with netizens commending the action.
Related report: Sept 15, Massive Floods Bring Penang to a Standstill