Sri Muda residents question ‘selective rescue’

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Claims of rescue efforts by boat carried out selectively among residents in the area, with alleged political considerations by those in power.

Standing on the roof outside a bedroom window of a second-storey terrace house – which was less than 48-hours earlier submerged in floodwater – Taman Sri Muda resident M Uvarajan, 44, fumed as his neighbours down on the street worked to scrub layers of thick brown mud from what was left of their homes.

Uvarajan claimed rescue efforts by boat were carried out selectively among residents in the area, with alleged political considerations by those in power.

“People are suffering, you know? In 1996 when this (flooding) happened, the army was deployed, and they did a great job.

“At least we were given food until the real help came in. This time, there was zero food. People were starving for two or three days without help,” he said.

“What kind of help? I don’t know. You can call BN or Pakatan Harapan the same, all trying to play money politics now,” he claimed.

Untold damage

Clean-up efforts were ongoing today as residents affected by flooding over the weekend returned home to receding water levels.

Many were faced with untold damage to their properties inundated by water from record rainfall, not only in Selangor but also across the peninsula.

Miera Zulyana

In Selangor, Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam was among the areas worst hit, aside from parts of Klang and Hulu Langat.

Hundreds of residents were reportedly trapped in their homes before eventually being evacuated to temporary shelters.

For David, 40, any chance to restart his life would require access to his savings under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

“(But) even my EPF savings they don’t want to give? It’s my own money. They are giving us RM10,000? Give me RM50,000 of my own money, so I can use it now.

“I don’t need the government’s money. To replace my household items would cost RM30,000, and in four more days it will be Christmas and then New Year,” he said in frustration as he waded in ankle-deep murky water.

Arranging own rescue

David also narrated a similar experience of alleged selective boat rescue.

“Water was in the house, I had to find my own boat and pay for it. I saw a (rescue) boat passing through, I called for help…I have a one-year-old son. The boat picked up their passengers and kept telling me to wait.

“Finally, I called my relative who arranged for a boat to come, and I paid RM2,000 for it. I needed to protect our lives,” he said, adding that the boat came for his wife, two children, and elderly mother.

David said he wasn’t sure where the boat came from but was willing to pay for the safety of his family.

He also claimed to be unsure of who was in charge of the official rescues, “the Malays came for the Malays, the Chinese came for the Chinese, what can we Indians do? (We’re) finished, just look at them”.

Another resident who gave his name as Gajendra said his family was rescued by a private boat on Sunday evening, leaving their home of 12 years.

“It was heartbreaking. All of our memories were gone in one day. We cannot do anything as everyone is facing the same thing.

“We can’t blame anyone. We try to make everything normal. We pray to God this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday said 41 boats, 16 lorries, and other assets were dispatched to Taman Sri Muda, with a rescue team comprising 321 personnel.

Picking up the pieces

Inside the homes, most of the residents revealed similar scenes of chaos caused by water of up to six feet high or above the average door.

Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Resident Ainuddin Kahar said he moved into his house about one year ago with the expectation that choosing the highest point in Sri Muda could be a safeguard against any flooding.

“So, what happened was unexpected. Now we just have to see what we can recover.

“I just came in to look at my house. In terms of items destroyed, everything on the first floor is unsalvageable,” he said, estimating damages of between RM8,000 and RM10,000 on one level.

Recalling the incident, Ainuddin said his 13-year-old daughter was left alone at home on Saturday while he was at work, and she eventually went next door to their neighbour’s house after water levels had rapidly risen.

Both the federal and Selangor state government had in the immediate aftermath of the flood announced various assistance for affected residents, including cash aid, rental waivers, and others. – Malaysiakini