THE Penang government is disappointed that no prior warnings were issued before strong winds and flash floods hit the state last weekend.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state was already hit by strong winds and continuous rains when the state meteorological department issued a red alert at 9.30pm on Saturday.
“The wind was blowing at 40mph by then and we were caught off guard.
“Assets like boats, large lorries and rescue personnel from various agencies could not be deployed on time to the hotspots.
“This paralysed our rescue operations as the personnel could not reach the flooding areas as more than 100 trees had fallen on the roads,” he said during a special announcement at the state legislative assembly sitting yesterday.
Lim said the Meteorological Department should improve on its early warning system and accuracy in weather forecast.
“If the warning was up earlier, we could have made better preparation in reducing the losses and damage, including the loss of lives,” he said.
Lim said a total of 12,559 people from 3,052 families were evacuated during the incident.
He said as of 8am yesterday, more than 3,000 people were still staying at evacuation centres in north Seberang Prai and central Seberang Prai.
Lim also thanked the various government agencies and political parties from both divides who came to the people’s aid.
He said many volunteers, irrespective of their creed and colour, came to help out in this difficult period.
“One such example is the bilal of the Taman Free School Surau Sapno Tukijo, who opened his door to more than 70 non-Muslim flood victims.
“The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation also helped with the clean-up and provided aid to the Muslim community.
“The unity and camaraderie make us proud as Malaysians,” he said.
Lim also apologised if there was any shortcoming in the relief efforts.