SUNGAI Kedah burst its banks and flooded several streets in downtown Alor Setar, Kedah.
In minutes, the river poured into rows of old shophouses and immersed them in knee-deep water yesterday morning.
Shopkeepers were caught off-guard and many said they had not seen the flood enter their shops before.
This old part of the city, comprising areas including Tanjung Chali and Pekan Cina, is mostly full of retailers in double-storey shop houses.
A hardware shop assistant, who wished to be known only as Tan, said it was the first time the flood rushed into the shop since it opened six years ago.
“It was so fast. Now we know what a flash flood is like,” he said.
In Seberang Perak, near Tanjung Chali, a neighbour of a 90-year-old woman called 999 on discovering that she was still in the house when the water was knee-deep.
Firemen arrived in four minutes from getting the call but it is learned that the woman’s 62-year-old son and 58-year-old daughter were reluctant to allow them to move her because they felt the flood was not severe.
Alor Setar MCA deputy chairman Tan Eng Hwa, who was at the scene, coaxed them and they finally allowed a fireman to carry their bedridden mother to dry ground to wait out the flood.
A shopkeeper, known only as Chong, said the rain poured heavily from Wednesday night to about 3pm yesterday.
“The river flooded our shops at about 11am,” she said.
According to the tide chart, the river was flowing towards a rising new moon tide at that hour and by 2.30pm, it was at a high of 2.13m.
The heavy rain and tide conditions also flooded low-lying coastal areas including Kuala Muda and Kuala Kedah.
But state Disaster Management Committee secretariat coordinator Kapt (Civil Defence) Saifuddin Abdullah said the situation was under control and no flood relief centres were opened.
But in Kuala Kedah, pedestrian Suraiti Othman, 30, fell into a monsoon drain of surging currents while wading through the flood.
“Someone pulled me by the hair and lifted me out of the drain. I was lucky. My feet couldn’t touch the bottom of the drain,” said the shivering woman when met.
In Penang, the state flood report listed 15 areas on the mainland covered in ankle-deep water.
On the island, a landslide hit Jalan Tun Sardon, blocking half of the two-way street from Balik Pulau heading to Bayan Lepas and Paya Terubong.
Fire and Rescue Department operations head senior Fire Officer II Zaiful Arifin Mat Ariffin said a large tree also went down with the soil and the blockage was cleared after a few hours.
Several small trees also collapsed in Batu Maung, at the roundabout near Tesco Penang in Lebuh Tunku Kudin, Batu Lancang market and Bayan Baru.
In Teluk Kumbar, 78 families consisting of 313 people were evacuated to the community hall after the flood reached 30cm.
Malaysian Civil Defence Force state director Kol Pang Ah Lek said the evacuation was ordered for fear that the water would rise further.
It, however, did not and residents were allowed to return to their homes yesterday afternoon.
Residents near Sungai Pinang, Sungai Air Itam and Sungai Relau were taking photos and biting their nails in the early morning when the rivers came to within centimetres of bursting their banks.
But Penang’s tide at 8am was at its lowest, just 70cm, and the rivers held.
Several parts of Perlis were also hit with flash floods.
The Drainage and Irrigation Department’s website showed that Perlis’ Timah Tasoh Dam was past its full storage level of 29.1m.
As of yesterday evening, its level was 29.45m. Its maximum flood detention level is 30.1m.