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Worst Floods In 50 Years And The Poor Are Paying For it

banjir B40

Incessant rain for days on end have left many families and communities in Malaysia wading through rising waters – some even fighting to survive and save whatever assets they have. Floods are devastating and even life-threatening for the poor.

Source: Malaysia Reserve

Nine days into 2021 and the headline reads, “Worst flooding in 50 years – Leaves 6 dead and 50,000 displaced in Malaysia”[1]. The calamitous news is an added burden to the ongoing pandemic that is ravaging the nation day by day.

Residents in Pahang evacuated to safety on a digger. Source: Malay Mail

The heavy rainfall started in early January hitting more than five states across the nation. As of 8 January 2021, Malaysia National Disaster Command Centre (NDCC) had estimated that 11,973 families are affected by the floods (8 deaths) and 42,945 people have been evacuated to 397 evacuation centres in 27 districts of Johor, Pahang, Kelantan, Selangor and Perak[2].

A road in Terengganu submerged underwater. Source: The Straits Times.

The winds shifted and incessant rain reached Borneo causing water levels to rise quickly in Sabah and Sarawak. Almost immediately, the situation became critical. On 18 January, 1,054 people had to be evacuated from their homes. In Sarawak, more than 3,000 people were displaced to 39 evacuation centres, as reported by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre)[3].

Source: CREST Malaysia

Photos of village houses flooding, schools submerged in water and roads collapsing soon became viral as netizens hollered and rallied for help and support to help fellow East Malaysians.

Road in Kampung Nibang, Pitas, Sabah damaged. Source: Facebook | Ruddy Awah

The Poor And Vulnerable Suffer Greatly 

Communities living in flood-prone areas have learned to live with rising water, building their homes on stilts and raising cement slabs and barricades to avert rising waters. Most times, these methods work, but when the weather is unforgiving, they can only hope for the best. Unfortunately, when you’re on a tight budget, relocation is not really an option.

Source: Twitter | Ebit Lew

Flooding in urban areas poses different dilemmas. Those living in compact, and high-density areas experience more damages due to flooding. This can be seen with Pahang, having the highest number of flood victims. However, as accessibility to the victims and areas are easier and more provisions are in place, communities are given swifter help. The Pahang State Government has already allocated RM11 million to cater to the needs of the flood victims[4].

Houses in Kampung Laut Skudai, Johor submerged in water. Source: The Straits Times

On the other hand, for those living in flood-prone rural areas, the norms of poverty have heightened the vulnerability of the victims. There is less strategy, planning, and development being utilized when trying to overcome this annual problem. As a result, rural poor communities suffer more from hazards compared to urban counterparts.

What Happens After The Rain Has Stopped? 

Relief efforts are a huge cost on the government and NGOs and the truth is, most families have to find money to pay for damages caused by floods in order to resume to some normalcy after the natural disaster.

Pahang flood damage. Source: CREST Malaysia.

Whilst for some these floods may be a temporary nuisance to replace damaged items, others need to worry about completely rebuilding their homes. Some are still unable to fathom the level of destruction that took place over such a short period.

Source: CREST Malaysia

Not everyone has the financial freedom of just picking up and moving out. Thousands will most likely face this problem again next year.

Source: Facebook | Ruddy Awah

Yes, those that have a house and car insurance may be offered coverage as part of a package under compassionate flood coverage, which will hopefully be enough to help kick things off again. But just how many of the B40 can commit to insurance payments? 

CREST volunteers helping to clear the mess after the flood. Source: CREST Malaysia.

The damages of these weather catastrophes are direct and indirect. Relief and rebuilding efforts are not only in physical properties but emotional and mental healing. One can only imagine the emotional toll and stress of living through a disaster as such. 

How Can You Help? Yes, You. 

Post-flood, government agencies and NGOs will continue to play their part in assisting flood victims to rebuild their lives and homes, but whilst the victims are forced to wait out the danger, many have stepped up to help ease their burdens.

Residents in Kota Belud, Sabah moving to higher ground. Source: Free Malaysia Today

Below are verified changemakers that are providing various forms of aid to flood victims throughout Malaysia. Get in touch and help where you can. It’ll make a world of a difference to someone.

IMARET (IMAM Response & Relief Team)

They are a team powered by Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM) that provides humanitarian aid reliefs to any disaster and outreach programs to marginalised communities

  • Help needed: Funds to help supply relief kits and mobilise volunteers to distribute them to those affected by the flood. IMARET’s medical volunteers will be deployed to attend to the increasing number of victims at temporary flood evacuation centres.
  • Donation details: Transfer to Persatuan Perubatan Islam Malaysia | CIMB: 8600 703 709 | Ref: Flood Relief | Swift Code: CTBBMYKL.
  • More Information:

MERCY Malaysia

Mercy Malaysia is mobilising volunteers to Johor following a flash flood that hits the state due to heavy rainfall. Along with the mobilisation, they plan to distribute hygiene kits to the people in that state as well as other affected states. To support Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri Johor, MERCY Malaysia is sending medical volunteers to help as medical assistance is needed particularly in Kluang, Kulai and Mersing.

  • Help needed: Donations and call for volunteers from both medical and non-medical background for assistance down in Johor.
  • To volunteer: Register as a volunteer call MERCYMalaysia volunteer, Azizan at 019 377 4873. Accommodation, transportation and meal will be provided.
  • To donate: Transfer to MERCY Humanitarian Fund | MAYBANK: 5621 7950 4126 | Ref: Malaysia Flood Relief Fund | Swift Code: CTBBMYKL. All monetary donations to MERCY Malaysia are tax-exempt.
  • More information:

Pitas Flood Relief

  • Location: Pitas, Sabah
  • Help needed: Volunteers with own vehicle to coordinate relief efforts. Donations of food items such as rice, Maggi mee, canned food, salt, sugar, etc. Donation of health and sanitary items such as basic medication (panadol, vitamin Cs), sanitary pads, mosquito nets, etc.
  • Contact: Mariah: 016 444 0607
  • More information: @borneospeaks

Bantuan Kilat Pitas 

  • Location: Pitas, Sabah
  • Help needed: Donations to support relief efforts.
  • Donation details: Transfer to CIMB: 703917440 | Joana Binti Ajadap.
  • Other contacts: Joana – 010 9373 711, Dairin – 012 864 0115, Paulina – 019 840 0647
  • Information from: @iampaulinahenry

Explore Our Sources:

  1. J, Celestial. (2021). Worst flooding in 50 years leaves 6 dead, 50 000 displaced in Malaysia. The Watchers. Link.
  2. International Federation of Red Cross & Red Cresent Society. (2021). Operation Update Report Malaysia: Floods. Link.
  3. Reliefweb. (2021). Malaysia: Floods – Jan 2021. Link.
  4. Malaymail. (2021). Pahang govt allocates RM11m for flood victims. Link.

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