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Painful test for all

IMAGES of the ongoing floods in the country suddenly crossed my mind when I saw trays of bread for sale at the entrance to a shop in Ipoh city centre recently.

I can empathise with the flood victims - trapped in their homes or relief centres, worrying about food supply, feeling cold and not knowing what is going to happen next.

Many - from infants to the elderly- have been living under such conditions for days.

That reminded me of the flash flood during the Tenang by-election polling day in Labis four years ago .

Many of us (journalists) were stranded in Labis as the road to our hotels in Segamat, where we stayed, were closed.

Drenched in dirty flood water, we were too tired to think of anything else after filing our last story for the day.

We just spent the night in places like election operations rooms or friends’ houses.

But what we went through is nothing at all compared to the ordeal of the hundreds of thousands of flood victims, especially those in the East Coast.

After surviving the height of the floods, their ordeal is far from over.

“Everywhere and everything in the house is covered with mud. You really do not know how to start to put your house back in order. Water and electricity supply has yet to resume.

“Luckily, we still have a well and we pumped water from it manually, but the water is murky and can only be used for washing the floor,” said Lee Yuk Peng on New Year’s Eve when summing up the ordeal of flood victims in Kelantan, where the water level in most areas has subsided.

Lee was helping her elderly aunt in Tanah Merah to clean up her double-storey house, where the ground floor was submerged in water for days.

For those staying in single-storey houses, the damage was worse, she added.

Lee counts herself lucky because she stays with her family in a level two apartment in Kota Baru and the flood water did not reach that level.

Lee said those who stayed in single-storey houses had most of their furniture and household appliances damaged beyond repair.

Some may even need to change the electrical wiring and sockets, which can be very expensive.

All is not lost though.

We found consolation in the fact that Malaysians are able to come together as one to help alleviate the sufferings of the victims.

Nevermind our background, we are all fighting for survival one way or another, and this big flood is an example.

And being able to come together in times of adversity, in particular, will make a difference.

As MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai put it: “Malaysians will persevere due to our resilience as a nation, despite a challenging year.”

There may be weaknesses in the flood relief works but I believe all parties involved are doing their level best.

There is absolutely no room for rhetorics or politicking in this difficult time.

While survivors of the flood will have to struggle to go back to normal life, the most tragic part are those who lost their loved ones in the flood.

On New Year’s Eve, a picture of the Prime Minister carrying an infant and the sad faces of young children around him told a heartbreaking story.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak visited the six children, aged between 12 years and four months, who lost their parents - Nurhayati Sulong and Suhaimi Awang - in the floods in Kemaman on Dec 24.

The rescue boat carrying the couple, both aged 37, and some other evacuees capsized last Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the official death toll from the flood was 21 while another eight were listed as missing.

As the floods begin to subside and things are returning to normal, let this sad episode that marked the end of 2014 be a reminder and lesson again - to do our part in a big or small way to help to lessen, if not prevent flooding.

Refraining from littering in public is just one of the many ways to prevent floods, for instance, and yet many seem not able to do so.

It is time for all of us to reflect and take actions to make 2015 a better year for everybody.

Northern Region , Family Community , floods