Flood victim grateful for precautions taken before the disaster

Volunteers helping to clean a house at Kampung Kelantan near Tasek Raban in Lenggong that was affected by the flood.

FINALLY being able to head home after spending 15 days at a flood relief centre, Nor Azizah Buyong was at a loss for words when she saw her flood-ravaged house in Kampung Kelantan, Lenggong.

The 52-year-old homemaker, along with her husband and 18-year-old son, had lost many of her house items and rubber mats to the muddy waters that inundated their home late December last year.

Experiencing a major flood such as this for the first time, she said this was the biggest test from God in her life thus far.

“I can either sit in despair, or be grateful that despite the terrible incident that struck our homes, my family and I are still safe.

“I do not know how long the cleaning is going to take, but we will have to pick ourselves up and do as much cleaning as we can for today,” she said when met on Thursday.

Recalling the fateful day of the floods, Nor Azizah, who also owned an eatery near Tasik Raban, said her husband and her had noticed that the drains outside her shop were starting to overflow.

“Fearing the worst, we decided to move some of our food to higher shelves in our shop before rushing back home.

“We started to pack some of our important belongings, but it was not until 4am that the floodwaters gushed into our house, reaching thigh level quickly.

“I was also informed that half of my shop was submerged and I imagined that most of my food items such as rice, pomelos and milk would be lost to floodwaters,” she said.

Although water level has receded, Nor Azizah said everyone’s houses are still too dirty to be inhabited.

“We will have to come back to clean it during the day and return to our flood relief centre, SK Raban, at night until the village chief informs us that it is safe for us to move back in.

“As for my eatery, I do not even want to think about it yet.

“I have yet to finish cleaning up my house, but most likely I will have to find ways to garner more funds with my husband to kick-start the business again,” she said, adding that she was grateful that her son had already finished secondary school, thus she need not worry about sending him back to school so soon come Monday.

Fellow villager Sarimah Abdul Rani, 47, related that she had a rude awakening at 3am when she felt half of her body was drenched.

“I was in shock and wondered what was happening.

“I quickly realised that our house was flooded,” she said.

The night before water gushed into Sarimah’s house, her husband had taken extra precaution in moving some of the heavier items to his friend’s house located on higher ground.

“He told me that since we were living right next to Tasik Raban, he did not wish to take any chances as he observed that the rain was getting heavier with each passing day.

“Thank goodness that he had moved some of our equipment, or else I fear our family would have suffered a bigger loss,” she said, adding that she estimated that floods have incurred a loss of 20% to her family.

The mother of six, who had two schooling children aged seven and 17, said she hoped that her house can be cleaned in time before school opens again.

“We have received school uniforms and school shoes from benefactors, so it should not be much of a concern when school starts on Monday again.

“As for our house, there is no use in being sad about it right now because everyone staying here is suffering from the same fate.

“My husband and I would have to work harder after this to gather more money to replace the household equipment that we had lost,” said Sarimah, who owns a sewing workshop in Lenggong town.

She noted that floodwaters had only seeped into the floors of the shop, leaving most of her sewing equipment intact.

During the same day villagers were returning to their houses, college students and volunteers had made their way into the village area to help villagers with their gotong-royong.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had also arrived to visit areas affected by the floods throughout Lenggong.

He noted that 17 houses in Lenggong were completely ruined by the floods, as well as the collapse of a bridge near Tasik Raban.

“In our efforts to come up with long-term solutions to mitigate the severity of flooding, the Cabinet is also looking into setting up state action committees in every affected state to oversee reconstruction and rehabilitation in the aftermath.

“Each committee is to be spearheaded by each state’s respective Mentri Besar and a federal minister,” said Shahidan.

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