KUALA LUMPUR – While the flood situation in Peninsular Malaysia has continued to improve, floods have worsened in Sabah and Sarawak, causing more people to be evacuated today.
Sarawak was reported to be the latest state to experience floods following heavy rain since Monday, after Sabah was similarly hit yesterday.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has issued an alert for bad weather, with heavy rain forecast to continue in several areas in Sarawak until tomorrow.
The number of people evacuated to flood relief centres (PPS) in Sarawak rose sharply to 358 this afternoon from 32 in the morning.
The victims are housed at four PPS – Dewan Rekreasi Bimajaya, Dewan Serbaguna Taman Malihah, Rumah Kedai Batu Kawa and Dewan Serbaguna Kampung Batu 1.
Dam reaches maximum level
Following incessant rain over the catchment area of Sungai Sarawak Kiri over the past couple of days, the water level at Bengoh Dam has reached its maximum level of 80 metres and is overflowing through the spillway.
State Utilities Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said Kuching Water Board (KWB) had also reduced the water discharged from the valves of the dam to the lowest rate of 95 million litres per day (MLD).
“As the dam is full, there is no room for it to retain the precipitation to prevent a flood downstream and that being the case, all the precipitation in the Bengoh catchment area is wholly translated as overflow through the spillway of the dam,” he said on the operational status of Bengoh Dam during the rainy season.
At the same time, he said all the gates of the weir near the Batu Kitang water treatment plant were fully open to facilitate the discharge of the river water.
He said the discharge of the water from the dam would not affect (flooded) the nearby villages downstream – Kampung Bengoh, Kampung Danu, Kampung Semadang, Kampung Gian and Kampung Git.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department director, Khirudin Drahman advised village chiefs, community leaders and the Village Development and Security Committees to be proactive in monitoring the flood situation at their respective villages and longhouses.
He said they must have an inventory and evacuation plan for their respective villages and longhouses, and provide special attention to the disabled and elderly living alone.
He also advised those staying in low-lying and flood-prone areas to be vigilant and immediately evacuate to the relief centres when ordered to do so by the authorities.
In Sabah, the number of evacuees increased to 1,054, housed at eight PPS in Kota Marudu, Pitas and Beaufort.
Other states like Johor, Pahang and Kelantan have reported improvements with fewer victims at relief centres and no rain forecast until today.
Nevertheless, MetMalaysia issued a warning of strong northeasterly winds with speeds exceeding 60 km/h and waves of more than 4.5 metres high in the waters off Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, east Johor and Sarawak, with the risk of waters overflowing the coastal areas and estuaries in these places.
Personally hands out aid
In related developments, the plight of flood victims has continued to attract the attention of national leaders, who visited them and handed over aid.
Istana Negara’s official social media accounts reported that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah today visited flood victims in several villages in Temerloh district in Pahang, accompanied by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.
Also present were Al-Sultan Abdullah’s children Regent of Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah and Tengku Arif Bendahara Tengku Muhammad Iskandar Ri’ayatuddin Shah.
The royal family visited villagers in Kampung Buntut Pulau and Kampung Tebal as well as evacuees at Sekolah Tahfiz al-Quran Al Amin in Kampung Berhala Gantang where Their Majesties helped to prepare food for the flood victims.
“Their Majesties’ visit reflects their deep concern towards the flood victims and those in need. They are also scheduled to visit several other flood-hit villages in Temerloh.
“Al-Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Hajah Azizah also called on the people to pray that the floods affecting several states do not last long,” read the statement posted on Istana Negara’s Facebook and Instagram.
Meanwhile, Islamic preacher Ustaz Ebit Liew, on his Facebook posted about his encounter with the royal couple at a restaurant in Temerloh after he had distributed assistance to flood victims in the district.
Ebit said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong then paid for his Patin fish dish, adding that he was deeply moved by Their Majesties’ gestures throughout their time at the restaurant.
His Majesty also repeatedly thanked him for helping to distribute assistance to flood victims in Pahang, Ebit wrote.
Ebit also wrote how he witnessed the King, Queen, and Pahang regent would go to separate locations to hand out assistance to those affected by flooding every day from morning until late night.