Flood victims come to terms with losses

TANJUNG MALIM – “All my children’s school supplies, bought three days ago, were washed away in front of our eyes,” said housewife Nurhani Mat Yusuf, 46, who was placed at the Temporary Evacuation Centre, Kemas Office in Slim River here.

The mother of six, said one son who would be entering kindergarten, two primary school and one form two were all very excited to start the school session soon but sad when their school supplies including uniforms, school bags and shoes were destroyed in the disaster that hit their home.

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Two other children had finished their schooling, she added.

“I bought them two pairs of school uniforms each, a school bags and a new pair of shoes quite early and did not think this would happen.

“During the incident at about 9.30 pm on Sunday, all the items were washed away after the cupboard overturned when our house was flooded up to thigh level but my first priority was to save my children,” she told Bernama.

Nurhani, who has lived in Taman Slim Permai for the past 14 years with her husband Zulkifli Alharis, 53, who is a businessman, said they had never experienced such a severe flood in the area before. The floods which occurred in 2012 were only up to the ankle level.

She said the family was evacuated to the relief centre while waiting for the flood to recede and to clean the mud at their residence before it was safe to occupy.

Nurhani said she and her family have come to terms with the tragedy which also damaged the children’s loan textbooks that had to be returned to the school, furniture and electronic items in the house such as television and washing machine.

“We also do not have a place to sleep because all the mattresses are damaged… thankfully Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Saarani Mohamad donated mattresses to flood victims here,” he said.

She hoped the authorities would take immediate action to overcome the flood problem, especially since the school session would start soon.

She is also worried about the safety of the victims taking refuge at the relief centre during the COVID-19 situation.

As of this morning, 554 residents from 118 families had to take refuge at five evacuation centres in Muallim district after Kampung Slim Village, Kampung Balun and Kampung Kuala Slim were flooded.

Yesterday, Saarani was reported to have said that authorities had identified a broken bund in Sungai Slim, Slim River as one of the causes of severe flooding that hit the area and repair work was being carried out by the Irrigation and Drainage Department.

Helping those in need

Villagers of Kampung Jeruas in Sega, Raub, about 225 kilometres (km) from here, demonstrated the spirit of ‘Malaysia Prihatin’ when they went all out to help motorists stuck on flooded roads despite their own homes being inundated.

A victim, Zazali Nawi, 46, said he and his family were stranded along with dozens of other road users since Sunday afternoon after part of the route was flooded and they could not turn back as they were informed that many roads had been closed to traffic.

“Being stranded in a strange place without any preparation is really worrying. But the people there, despite being busy saving themselves and their property, still helped us. They asked if we had food and so on.

“We were allowed to stay in suraus and mosques. Those running grocery stores also told us if we needed anything, just come even if it is late at night, although the shops close at 6 pm,” he told Bernama here today.

Zazali, who was on his way back from Besut, Terengganu to the capital, said he was touched when a resident told him that alternative routes using village roads and oil palm plantations could be traversed by four-wheel drive vehicles around 3 pm yesterday.

He said, after discussing with his wife, they agreed to try the proposed route in their Toyota Hilux, with several other vehicles following suit because they wanted to return home quickly after being stranded for almost a day.

“To help us, as we were unfamiliar with the route, the residents there guided us and we did not expect that at every junction there were people waiting so that we don’t get lost. That was the situation until we came to the main road,” he said.

Food aid received

Zazali, who runs his own business, said the villagers also contacted the authorities to get food aid for them and it was sent by the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) by boat around 11 am yesterday.

According to the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma)’s deputy director of operations coordination, Rusli Ibrahim, the food was donated by a non-governmental organisations and they helped distribute it as they were in the process of sending basic food packages to a temporary evacuation centre in Raub.

Meanwhile, Kampung Jeruas Village Development and Prosperity Committee (JKKK) chairman Wan Hashim Wan Mat Zim said they could only help as much as they could considering the floods occurred so fast.

“I felt sorry for those with small children who were trying to find a homestay while others were invited to stay in evacuation centres or mosques. The food contribution for flood victims was also given (to them), but it was not enough for all because there was only bread or biscuits to fill the stomach,” he said.

Meanwhile, homestay entrepreneur Julia Jamaluddin, 46, said her mobile phone did not stop ringing on Sunday evening inquiring about availability of accommodation at her homestay which was built next to her father-in-law’s house in Kampung Jeruas.

Julia, who lives in Raub town, said she reluctantly had to refuse because she had given the house to the first tenant who contacted her on Sunday afternoon who was also among the stranded victims.

“In fact, the person was also willing to take it even when told the house had not been tidied up. I was not willing to take a deposit and reduced the rent by half because I knew they were in trouble and did not have much cash at the time.

“Rental matters are based on trust because they informed me they will make the payment after returning to Kuala Lumpur. I can only trust them and this is my way to help them,” she said.