Victims of the December 2021 flash flooding that hit at least 7 states in Malaysia experienced an uphill battle to regain their livelihood and recover their losses. Coupled with the pandemic and the multiple lockdowns throughout the year, 2021 – the nation’s economy has been hit hard.
The government, both state and federal, had to fork out millions of ringgits to aid individuals, families and enterprises to get back on their feet due to the recent flash flooding. The true cost is, however, deeper than we could estimate.
Studies have shown that flood risk is underestimated and increasing. The true cost of flooding is higher than we realise and it also deepens social and economic inequalities. – Datuk Dr Madeline Berma, Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) Fellow
The Selangor state government shared that they would need RM369.5 million to repair the severely damaged infrastructures (i.e federal and state roads). A climate change activist, Shaqib Shahril, estimated that the figure the Federal government should be looking at is over RM1 billion for each industrialised state affected such as Selangor and Johor.
Based on this, the losses are estimated to be RM985 million – almost passing the RM1 billion mark. It could be even higher because the actual number of families affected is unknown, as not all families would have gone to the evacuation centres. – Shaqib Shahril, climate change activist
Businesses: All Systems Shut Down
When things were looking bright for the corporate sector, the CGS-CIMB Research initial assessment indicated that there are industry Q4 (quartile-4) earnings that would be markedly affected. Such industries are port operators, manufacturers and the tourism industry. Audits of the losses so far are not stated but only time would tell.
There are existing issues at the port with the yard being congested. Despite no infrastructure damages reported at the West Port and Port Klang, their staff members, however, were affected and are unable to return to work.
Following a recent Westports [Holdings Bhd] briefing, we have cut our net profit forecasts for the financial year 2021 (FY21F) by 4% to reflect lower container volume due to the impact of yard congestion and the recent floods, which is likely to hurt throughput in the last two weeks of December this year. – Ivy Ng Lee Fang and Nagulan Ravi, research analysts at CGS-CIMB Research
The badly affected areas in Shah Alam and Klang house various manufacturers. The mass evacuation over the weekend (17-19 December 2021), as well as important transportation routes, were disconnected and had only affected production and shipping.
The losses include damage to property, other assets and inventories, as well as production disruptions, as many workers have not been able to get to work or return home. – Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president
The snowball effect of delayed shipping is costly to small businesses that rely on day-to-day income. For example, a restaurant owner in Negeri Sembilan, Ms Yanti Zulfadhli had to close down her restaurant on Sunday with road closures and suppliers unable to make required deliveries.
It’s a financial loss to have no business for one day, but I hear that others have lost their homes, so I’m at least thankful that my family and I are safe. – Yanti Zulfadhli, a restaurant owner in Negeri Sembilan
Rather than the fear of COVID-19 new variant, Omicron, it is suggested that recent floods would affect the domestic tourism sector. Those who are unaffected may be wary to venture out and embark on a road trip to avoid the possibilities of being stranded while on holiday, especially with Malaysia’s Meteorology department enhanced rainfall and flood warning after throngs of criticisms.
Although not extensive, hotels have in fact received cancellation of bookings due to this. However, we are hopeful that the recent floods are a one-off odd occurrence. – Yap Lip Seng, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Chief Executive Officer
Household Losses: Gone In A Flash
Sofa saya kena buang. Katil, tilam, almari, kabinet dapur semua sudah kembang, terpaksa saya buang. Kalau simpan, nanti akan tumbang bahayakan anak-anak. – Melly Yuhanus, flood victim 
[Translation: We have to throw out our sofa. The bed frame, mattresses, cupboards, kitchen cabinets have ballooned up, so we have to throw it out. If kept, it would fall and place the children in danger.]
With her household’s meagre income, Melly Yuhanus, 49, is burdened by the prospect of replacing furniture and home appliances for her house.
Saya kerja kilang. Suami kerja pengawal keselamatan. Gaji kami kecil, cukup-cukup makan saja. Mana kami nak cari duit nak beli barangan rumah yang baharu? – Melly Yuhanus, flood victim 
[Translation: I work in a factory. My husband is working as a security guard. Our salaries are small, just adequate to feed ourselves. Where are we supposed to find money to buy new furniture and home appliances?]
Adding to her already long concerns, her eldest daughter’s reception is being held next month after a prolonged delay due to the cycles of Movement Control Order (MCOs). The reception preparations were unfortunately submerged underwater.
Hampir semua barang kenduri ditenggelami air. Ada beberapa barang yang sempat kami selamatkan. Apa nak buat, majlis tetap kena jalan sebab sudah banyak kali tangguh. – Melly Yuhanus, flood victim
[Translation: Almost all the reception preparation was submerged underwater. There are some items that we managed to save. What else can we do, the reception must go on, we have delayed it too many times.]
The flood victims were promised RM1,000 from the Selangor state government and an additional RM1,000 from the Federal government per household. However, could RM2,000 in total cover the recovery expenses?
Based on an estimation by non-profit humanitarian aid organisation Malaysian Relief Agency (MRA), the repair cost for property owners is estimated at between RM5,000 and RM 10,000 per house (including electrical wiring and water supply). However, this approximation by MRA president, Mohd Daud Sulaiman, stated that it doesn’t take into account long-term repairs.
In addition to properties, cars were also submerged in the flood and reparation cost comes with a hefty price tag and some car owners may have to prepare for a financial loss. An estimate by ZigWheels suggested that a bill of around RM4,000 to RM6,000 will get a stationary, basic car such as first-generation Honda Stream, Proton Waja, Perodua Kelisa or Nissan Sentra in running condition.
However, if the cars were driven in floodwaters and were stuck, the costs could multiply as the engine may have been damaged and exhausts are consequently blocked, resulting in total loss.
Modern cars equipped with safety features and ‘talking’ infotainment systems, repairing is no longer an option. Car owners would have to replace many expensive parts and the cost incurred may be around RM 20,000 to RM 40,000 depending on the model and extent of damage, as stated by Hari Vairavan Nathan, body and paint manager at UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd.
Most cars these days are equipped with a lot of electronic components. If they are submerged or contaminated by water, they cannot be serviced. They have to be replaced. – Hari Vairavan Nathan, body and paint manager at UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd .
Car owners may even resort to selling their cars after weighing costs and benefits, and they would walk away with financial loss.
At the same time, our pet friends and farm animals should be accounted for. There is no exact figure that is corroborated when it comes to the loss suffered by the furry friends. But they were just as affected, and despite it being invisible, lasting phobia would also have permeated their minds. Further, pets have reportedly starved as their food drifted with the floodwater.
Ketika itu Loki sudah tiga hari tidak makan kerana makanannya dihanyutkan oleh banjir. – Shirley Lim, flood victim in Taman Sri Muda
[Translation: When we managed to rescue Loki, he hadn’t eaten for three days because his food drifted away with the flood water.]
Compared to pets, there is government assistance funnelled to help farmers who had lost their animals to the flood such as the Tabung Pertanian Terengganu. Some had lost 20 rabbits, recording a loss of RM60,000 but were pushed back by the government. Thus far, veterinary aids and food provisions have been saddled by the goodwill of the general public.
Natural disasters of this scale have impacted all walks of life not just in monetary value, but also, lasting psychological impacts. As many flood victims leave the temporary evacuation centres (PPS), they are faced with insurmountable challenges in cleaning, rebuilding their homes and starting their lives. Start your new year right by donating and volunteering to assist the flood victims, every single cent and hour of service could ease their concern.
Explore our sources:
- MERCY Malaysia (2021). Flood Responses And Recovery Plan. Link
- A.Jalil. (2021). Flood, not Omicron, likely to derail economic recovery. The Malaysian Reserve. Link
- M.N.Mohamad Idris. (2021). RM369.5 juta kos baik pulih infra di Selangor. Utusan Malaysia. Link
- A.Aiman. (2021). Flood losses ‘could amount to RM20 billion’. Free Malaysia Today. Link
- S.Ong.(2021). Port operators, manufacturing, plantation, tourism industries likely to be impacted by recent floods, post some risk to 4Q earnings — CGS-CIMB. The Edge Markets. Link
- A.Yusof. (2021). ‘Almost everything we own is gone’: Malaysia flood victims rue damage to property, valuables. Channel News Asia. Link
- Y.S.Chan. (2021).LETTER | Covid-19 did not scare domestic travellers, but floods will. MalaysiaKini. Link
- H.Azman. (2021).Reviving tourism amid floods, Omicron. The Malaysian Reserve. Link
- Z.Mohd Yusuf. (2021). Mangsa banjir pilu tak mampu ganti perabot, barangan elektrik rosak. Free Malaysia Today. Link
- N.Badrul Huzaini. (2021). Families of those killed in floods to get RM10,000 each, affected households to get RM1,000 each — MB. Selangor Journal. Link
- D.Chong. (2021). PM Ismail Sabri announces RM100m aid for flood-damaged homes, infrastructure, promises to channel more as needed. Malay Mail. Link
- I.Lim. (2021). Malaysian relief agency estimates each flood-hit homeowner may need up to RM10,000 to fix damaged property. Malay Mail. Link
- D.Fernandez.(2021). Flood damaged cars repair cost in Malaysia. ZigWheels. Link
- J.Ramachandran.(2021). Repairs to flood-hit cars may cost RM40,000, say workshops. Free Malaysia Today. Link
- S.L.Wei. (2021).”Si Bulus” Juga Ahli Keluarga Kami. BERNAMA. Link
- BERNAMA. (2021).Banjir: Tiada ganti rugi untuk haiwan peliharaan mahal, kata exco. Link
Cover image: BERNAMA. Retrieved from: Malay Mail