KOTA BARU: The floods were like a time machine transporting me back to an era where I lived without electricity, Internet or telephone and was practically cut off from the outside world with my family.
I queued for one hour to top up fuel at a petrol station, helped my aunt to wash her muddy house with water manually pumped from the underground well, cleaned every piece of her belongings, and raced with daylight to get most of the washing done before dark.
I slept early since there was no light to read and no Internet to surf.
I cooked efficiently since I only have limited resources – without a fridge to keep food and much water to wash.
It was like a journey back – and not to the future.
It was good education for my children as well. As for my husband, he has never cleaned so many things in his life.
I can’t imagine how in this era, where even the United States and Japan offered to help flood victims in the east coast, it took so many days for power and piped water to be restored here.
Kelantan people have always accepted joy and pain in silence, including the sorrow the floods brought.
The floods are gone, but not the suffering. Many have to start their life from scratch.
Right now, they are having to put up with mounting garbage and inconsistent water and power supply. Many are still cleaning up, day after day depending on the water supply and electricity.
Having a well in my house, we managed to clean fast. I discovered more things to wash in my mother’s shop after power was restored.
Recovery is slow due to water shortage and many were hit on many fronts – house and shop, house and work place. Practically, almost everyone is a flood victim but at different levels of suffering.
Outsiders probably assumed life returned to normalcy after flood waters receded. But that is not the case since there is inconsistent piped water supply and electricity.
People just live with heaps of garbage beside them in their muddy house because that is their only house.
Volunteers who come all the way to Kelantan would find themselves “useless” here without water supply to help in the cleaning.
Compared to people who have lost their homes or shops where flood waters were one-storey high, I am very blessed.
Lessons learned here?
> The more things you own, the more you need to clean after the floods.
> Simple canned food meals eaten with the family in the dark or after a long day of cleaning with my aunt were the most delicious.
> Treasure and enjoy what you have for they may be gone the next moment.
> Give practical and timely help.
> Always have a plan B in life or build up your resilience.
> Happiness is simple – the loaves of bread and buns I brought home from Kuala Lumpur cheered up my 70-year-old mother, my sister, brother and children to no end.