Heavy rain causes floods in seven Malaysian states; more people evacuated

Residents living in coastal areas were also advised to be on alert for a four-day high tide phenomenon.

Hazlin Hassan

Hazlin Hassan

The Straits Times


Residents wading through flood waters in Johor's Segamat district on Jan 2, 2022. PHOTO: BERNAMA

January 3, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Heavy rain pummelling Malaysia caused floods in seven states on Sunday (Jan 2), with more people being evacuated to temporary shelters, even as the Meteorological Department issued a warning for more rain in most states until Tuesday (Jan 4).

Residents living in coastal areas, especially on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, were also advised to be on alert for a four-day high tide phenomenon expected from Sunday (Jan 2).

“Although the high tide phenomenon this time is on a smaller scale compared to November last year, the situation can get worse if there are strong winds, tidal waves and heavy rain happening simultaneously which can cause flash floods, overflow of seawater and coastal flooding,” the Drainage and Irrigation Department said in a statement on Sunday.

The areas that are expected to be hit by this phenomenon are Kuala Muda in Kedah; Bagan Datoh in Perak; Klang, Kuala Langat, Sabak Bernam, and Kuala Selangor in Selangor; and Batu Pahat and Pontian in Johor.

Members of the public, especially beachgoers, are advised to be extra cautious when in the areas mentioned, the department added.

As at Sunday, the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Sabah were impacted by floods, with as many as 8,727 victims moved to 128 relief centres nationwide.

“Allah (God). My house was almost submerged,” wrote Twitter user HermyR on Sunday, posting a video of himself standing knee-deep in water just outside his home in Melaka.

The government is expected to fork out some RM1 billion (S$324 million) to repair damaged infrastructure, while also bracing itself for a possible second wave of floods.

Works Ministry secretary-general, Datuk Wan Uzir Sulaiman, said damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges and slopes must be repaired quickly to ensure access and connectivity.

“Our worry is the second wave of floods. The recent floods have resulted in a lot of damage, and the second wave can bring about further damage,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency on Sunday.

“We have already identified ‘injured’ slopes and we have taken steps to prevent landslides.”

A total of 125,490 people have been displaced nationwide due to torrential rain in the past two weeks, according to the National Disaster Management Agency. Of that figure, 117,700 have already returned home.

Volunteers helping residents of Taman Klang Utama in Selangor clear up after the floods. PHOTO: BERNAMA

Volunteers helping residents of Taman Klang Utama in Selangor clear up after the floods. PHOTO: BERNAMA

So far, 15,581 first responders have been deployed to flood-stricken areas to assist victims after the country faced some of its worst floods in years.

On Sunday, at least 13 routes involving five districts in Negeri Sembilan were closed to all traffic, while four more are open only to heavy vehicles following landslides and floods.

Over the past two weeks since the deadly floods struck most parts of the country, 229 landslides have been recorded.

Fifty people are confirmed to have died, and two more are missing, said a police tweet citing Inspector-General Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said that the government was seeking long-term solutions to mitigate flooding, and pledged to provide more financial aid, including up to RM61,000 each for flood-hit families amid criticisms over how his administration had handled the disaster.

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