RESIDENTS of Ampang, Kajang and Shah Alam are counting the cost of the flash floods that affected their businesses and damaged their property.
At first glance, everything seemed to be in order yesterday afternoon at Pasar Besar Kajang in the centre of town.
Upon closer inspection, some workers in the shops, especially those near the river, were seen cleaning their premises — no thanks to a flash flood that occured the day before after a heavy downpour.
Shanti Muniandy, a flower shop trader at the market, said the water overflowed from the banks of the river and rose to half a metre.
“I had just gotten home from work that day and was alerted of the flash floods. I rushed back to salvage what I could,” she said, adding that she still suffered losses amounting to RM400.
Shanti, who has been operating her stall for 19 years, said that floods had become so common that the traders there were afraid whenever it rained heavily.
She said that part of the contributing factor to the flash floods was irresponsible dumping of rubbish.
“There is a rubbish disposal bin meant for traders nearby, but people from outside treat it as a dumpsite as well, causing it to overflow.
“When it floods, all the rubbish is washed down the river,” she said.
“I hope the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) will apply stricter enforcement and issue heavy summonses to deter people from behaving irresponsibly,” she added.
Meanwhile, flower shop owner, Low Hoon Hang, said that overdevelopment in areas upstream was to blame.
“When there are new housing or commercial projects, ex-mining ponds are filled with land. This causes those areas to become higher and when it rains, the large volume of water floods low-lying areas like Kajang, creating a bad basin effect, said Low who is also Taman Bukit Mewah Residents’ Association chairman.
“MPKj should monitor these developments to ensure it does not impact the overall environment,” he said.
Meanwhile, a shoe trader, who only wanted to be known as Lee, said that most double-storey shops near the market have been renovated to be a few inches higher than the ground around them.
He spent RM40,000 on the renovations.
“I have been operating here for over 20 years and it is not easy to just move,” he said, adding that he could not insure his business as Kajang was a known area for floods.
“It comes to a point where we just accept it and live with it,” he said, while adding that MPKj should come up with more comprehensive solutions to mitigate floods.
MPKj public relations head Kamarul Izlan Sulaiman said that they sent a clean-up crew immediately after the flash floods on Monday and everything was cleared within a few hours.
“Our team from the Landscape, Urban Development Department as well as Pantas crew (quick reaction team) were on the scene and cleared the area by washing away mud with high-powered water guns. They also cleared fallen branches and other rubbish clogging the drains,” he said.
On plans in place to mitigate further floods, Izlan said they were discussing with the Irrigation and Drainage Department on upgrading works for the river.
“We will be working with other agencies to come up with a long-term solution,” he said, adding that for the moment, MPKj will conduct regular cleaning of drains to ensure no blockages occur.
In Shah Alam, the debris caused by thunderstorms which uprooted trees, blocked road access and damaged rooftops was cleared efficiently by authorities and contractors.
The heavy rain that lasted only for less than an hour had strong winds which destroyed the roofs of some factories nearby Bukit Jelutong Business and Technology Centre in Shah Alam.
Motorists who normally left their vehicles at parking bays shaded by trees saw branches and uprooted trees falling on their vehicles.
Major roads like Persiaran Astaka were partially blocked by fallen trees.
The areas affected by the thunderstorms here were Bukit Jelutong, TTDI Jaya, Shah Alam City Centre, Section 9, Section 8, Section U2 and Section U8.
Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) deputy corporate communications director Shahrin Ahmad said MBSA had its disaster team called the Action Team on standby to make their rounds and to handle relief work.
The MBSA Action Team acted on complaints on fallen trees, blocked access to roads and even fallen branches made to the 24-hour council hotline for disasters at 03-5510 5811.
“Besides this, the action team went on their rounds to check the affected areas.
“The team also liaised with the Meteorological Department on the weather forecast before the cleaning work was carried out.
“Then, the council sent shredder trucks and open tipper lorries to the affected areas to collect branches and debris on the road.
“About 100 staff members from Park and Recreation Department, Social Waste Management Department and MBSA contractors helped in clearing the branches.
“Most of the debris that blocked access to roads was cleared within two hours,’’ he said.
Shahrin added that the Action Team has three shifts — Shift One (8am to 4pm), Shift Two (4pm to midnight) and Shift Three (midnight to 8am).
“Each shift has seven members in the team on standby.
“When there are not enough staff members to handle disasters, we would call in the staff from the Enforcement Department and other relevant departments to carry out cleaning and disaster relief work,’’ Shahrin said.
Meanwhile, some 16 houses in Taman Nirwana, Ampang were inundated as water levels in the drains overflowed.
Residents complained of water overflowing into their homes up to one foot high.
In some areas here, it was reported that water had risen to more than three feet in less than an hour.
Taman Nirwana Residents’ Association adviser M. Thomas said the current drainage system could not support the growing number of neighbourhoods.
“For example, a monsoon drain meant for three neighbourhoods, now has to support up to seven.
“So, whenever there is a downpour, these drains overflow and our homes are flooded,” he said, adding that the last flash flood occurred in May this year.
Thomas added that the problem was compounded after a gabion wall was constructed in a drain at Jalan 43 in Taman Nirwana.
“The wall was built some 10 days ago by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) and they did not even inform the association on the matter.
“Because of the volume of water, the backflow caused water to rise and enter our homes,” he said, adding that a nearby playground was also submerged during the flash flood.
Jalan 45 resident Albert Lee, 58, said he was lucky this time around as the water stopped short of entering his home.
“Unfortunately, some of my neighbours were not as lucky.
“Their furniture and other valuables were damaged as water flowed into their homes.
“As most of them were at work, they were shocked to come home to see their belongings damaged by the flood,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, MPAJ acting president Abdul Hamid Abdul Hussain said the flash flood was unusual as it was worse than usual.
“We had 80mm of rain yesterday and because of this, the drains could not cope with the volume of water and the hardest hit was Taman Nirwana.
“Although we have done a series of five upgrading projects over the past eight years, costing some RM1mil, the problem still persists.
“We even conducted a desilting exercise in August.
“We may look into appointing a consultant to do an overall study of the area and advise us on how best to solve this issue.
“We may also look at widening the existing retention pond or deepening the drains,” he said.