874 flood hotspots identified in Johor


End of the road: Jalan Besar at Jambatan Kota Tinggi, in Kota Tinggi, Johor was cut off during the devastating floods in March this year.

Authorities have distributed food to folk from previously hit areas

Those living in flood-prone areas in Johor are hoping that this current monsoon season will not cause widespread flooding and devastation as the last incident some nine months ago.

Single mother Suhailiza Suliman, 32, wants to see better coordination and monitoring by the local authorities.

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According to her, the March 4 flood at her village of Kampung Seri Muar in Batu Pahat began in the morning when water from nearby Sungai Parit Karjo started to rise.

She said she lost her entire chilli fertigation farm in a day.

Fire and rescue department personnel conducting water rescue training as part of their safety awareness campaign under the Water Activity Safety Council’s monsoon season preparations. — REMAR NORDIN/The StarFire and rescue department personnel conducting water rescue training as part of their safety awareness campaign under the Water Activity Safety Council’s monsoon season preparations. — REMAR NORDIN/The Star

“I take it as a loss that I can recover and build again over time.

“What scares me the most is the lack of supervision or patrols by the authorities for the houses that are flooded as homes have been broken into during this period.

“So, I hope that the government will be able to look into this matter and conduct patrols in affected areas, especially since the homeowners are still unable to return home,” said Suhailiza, who sells banana fritters for a living.

She said other than the March incident, the last time the village was hit by floods was in 2006.

“I would not be able to go out to work during heavy rain and thunderstorms, which also means that I would not have money to buy food for my two children.

Suhailiza inspecting her chilli farm that was destroyed in the March flood. — FilepicSuhailiza inspecting her chilli farm that was destroyed in the March flood. — Filepic

“But food aid is not an issue here, as the Welfare Department (JKM) has that covered.

“My other concern is the lack of coordination between agencies as local villagers are not given priority to evacuate to nearby temporary relief centres (PPS).

“Because the village had not been hit by floods for a long time, it was quite hectic and troublesome when flood victims from other villages were sent to the PPS in our village, while the victims here were sent to another PPS that was 10km away,” she added.

Suhailiza said some flood victims also refused to move out of the PPS as they feared they would not get any government aid.

Johor DID has placed 42 mobile water pumps in flood-prone areas. — Courtesy of DIDJohor DID has placed 42 mobile water pumps in flood-prone areas. — Courtesy of DID

Another single mother, Noorizam Punijan, 53, who lives in Kampung Baru Sungai Mas, Kota Tinggi, wants the state government to relocate at-risk villagers to safer areas.

“There are about seven families who are affected by floods each time the monsoon season comes round.

“My house has become an indicator for the rest on when they should go to Dewan Kampung Baru Sungai Mas PPS.

“If my house is inundated, the other families will evacuate; if it’s not flooded, then they will stay,” said Noorizam whose house is near a tributary of Sungai Lebam.

Noorizam wants the state government to relocate at-risk villagers to safer areas.Noorizam wants the state government to relocate at-risk villagers to safer areas.

She said in the last 12 years, the water level in her village had slowly risen from ankle-deep to waist-deep.

“Previously, we would be able to drive to the PPS, but now it would be cut off.

“We were told that the government has already identified suitable land to relocate the villagers, so I hope that the move can take place soon,” she said, adding that she hoped more volunteers would be sent to the village to conduct post-flood clean-up.

Meanwhile, Kampung Baru Masai village chief Dr Chua Ching Hao, 32, said all local council road projects near any drainage system must be postponed immediately.

“We fear that these projects could lead to flooding in the village or any area where the project is being carried out.

Chua says all local council road projects near any drainage system must be postponed.Chua says all local council road projects near any drainage system must be postponed.

“Construction materials could be washed by the rain into the drainage system, causing blockages.

“So unless the project is necessary, it should be stopped for the time being,” he said.

Chua said on Nov 9, Jalan Sungai Masai in Pasir Gudang was hit by flash floods after a team started work on a road divider project at the location.

“A pool of water appeared at the project site and if it had been left unchecked, it could have led to a much larger problem, especially in terms of road safety.

“There was no path for the rainwater to flow out, so it became stagnant on the road, right where the road divider was built, posing a safety hazard to motorists,” he said, adding that local councils should discuss the projects with the local community first.

Ready for action

Climate Change and State Disaster Management Select Committee chairman Anuar Abd Manap said the government had identified 874 flood hotspots in Johor.

“We participated in the northeast monsoon preparation and coordination meeting on Nov 9 that was chaired by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

“In general, all rescue operations’ manpower and assets have been prepared and are ready to be deployed when needed – we have also discussed the strategy and work that would be conducted post-flood.

“We have distributed food aid through JKM to all flood victims whose houses were previously cut off by floods and affected by delayed rescue operations.

“The aid has been given to the villagers living in islands off Mersing and in remote areas, including Orang Asli settlements,” he said.

Anuar says the state government has identified 874 flood hotspots in Johor.Anuar says the state government has identified 874 flood hotspots in Johor.

Anuar explained that of the 56 state constituencies in Johor, 32 were affected by the March floods.

“We are prepared to deploy more aid to any location if needed. The state has already set aside a budget to be used during the monsoon season,” he added.

On the topic of safety and security during floods, Anuar said the committee had requested that the police and rescue agencies be on the lookout for any suspicious activities during their patrols.

“More surveillance will be conducted as long as the victims are not allowed to return home but these patrols will only be conducted on houses that are not submerged,” he added.

Meanwhile, Johor Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director Azren Khalil said 42 mobile water pumps had been placed in flood-prone areas as part of its preparations for the monsoon season.

“The majority of the pumps are located in Tangkak with 14 units and Batu Pahat with 11 units.

“All drainage systems and flood retention pools have been cleaned since earlier this year and maintained,” he said.

Siti Rohani says the fire department will be conducting a safety awareness campaign.Siti Rohani says the fire department will be conducting a safety awareness campaign.

Azren added that extra attention was given to hotspots, as these areas would be inundated quickly during a downpour.

“These are low-lying areas where even the slightest heavy rain will cause flash floods,” he said, adding that Mersing and Kulai were often unaffected because of the areas’ elevated terrain.

He said DID would work with Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) to conduct water releases at three water dams in the state, namely Bekok and Sembrong in Batu Pahat and Machap in Kluang.

“The water release is meant to ensure that the dam’s structural integrity is not affected by the huge volume of water coming from the rain.

“We cannot conduct any water release right now as it will create another crisis if there is no rain,” he said, adding that climate change had affected the volume of rainfall in Johor.

Close monitoring

Meanwhile, Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Siti Rohani Nadir said it would be increasing surveillance and patrols in flood-prone areas when needed.

“So far, all assets and manpower are on standby in case of a sudden change in weather,” she said, adding that there were 1,365 fire department personnel at 34 fire stations in Johor.

She said the department would also be conducting a safety awareness campaign under the Water Activity Safety Council (WASC) as part of its monsoon season preparations.

The programme is important to reduc drowning cases at home as well as at swimming pools, recreational parks, public beaches, seas, rivers and especially during floods, said Siti Rohani.

“We wanted to increase public awareness, especially on early prevention steps and practise whenever they could while out doing water sports, recreational activities.

Villagers rowing past a partially submerged wooden house at Kampung Temehel, Yong Peng, during floods in March this year. — FilepicVillagers rowing past a partially submerged wooden house at Kampung Temehel, Yong Peng, during floods in March this year. — Filepic

“In Johor alone, we have received 276 water rescue reports where 110 deaths were recorded from 2021 until September this year,” she said.

She added that for this year, the department had received nine drowning cases involving public beaches, rivers and lakes.

“Four cases were recorded in Pantai Tanjung Buloh and Pantai Batu Layar Kota Tinggi, two in Parit Haji Anuar, Muar, one in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah and two in Tasik Bandar Seri Alam, Johor Baru.

“Our main agenda for this year is safety first – we want the public to avoid going to places that are listed as dangerous, especially beach areas that have a red flag; parents should also avoid letting their children near water bodies during the rainy seasons.

“Avoid recreational activities near the river during bad weather to avoid cases of water surge,” she said, adding that the public should always adhere to the advice of safety marshals.

The public are also advised not to conduct any rescue attempts on drowning victims, as the majority of the cases also resulted in the rescuers drowning, she added.

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Monsoon Season , Flood , JKM , Aid , Victims , Hope

   

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