Sarawak braces for floods


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 31 Jul 2007

By STEPHEN THEN 

MIRI: Sarawak is gearing up for a really wet spell ahead, following heavy downpour and strong winds lashing the coastal belt and inland regions. 

The state disaster relief committee has directed its divisional offices to prepare to cater to the needs of some 220,000 possible flood victims throughout the state. 

This includes instruction to get ready more than 400 evacuation centres to use when the need arises. 

The directive, issued recently, warned of the possibility that Sarawak would see disaster-proportion floods, similar to that experienced in the low-lying interior towns of Kapit, Marudi and others four years ago. 

In the 2003 and 2004 floods, tens of thousands of people in riverine towns and longhouses were inundated by floodwaters of up to two metres. 

Several residential estates along the Miri-Bintulu second coastal highway were hit by flash floods Tuesday, following an incessant rains overnight. In Ulu Niah district, some 150km south of here, rural roads and bridges were hit by flood waters that overflowed the network of rivers over the past three days. 

Land link was severed in several low-lying zones when gravel roads connecting the inland settlements to the Pan Borneo Highway turned into mud pools following the flash floods. 

Miri Resident Ose Murang, who is the divisional disaster relief committee chairman, said so far no school or longhouse had been evacuated. 

“There is no need for emergency relief as yet. The weather has turned chaotic. This seems to be the case the world over,” he said. 

Two years ago at this time, Sarawak was struggling to contain forest fires.July, traditionally, is the start of the dry season in this

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