Quick response by flood relief volunteer boaters

PETALING JAYA: When Ernest Ong Kok Guan heard of the floods that hit Penang on Sunday (Nov 4), he did not hesitate to volunteer his help.

"A friend called me telling me there's a big flood in Penang and that they need help to extract people. So I agreed to go there just to see what we can do," said the 37-year-old co-owner of the Tom, Dick & Harry's pubs.

Within a day, Ong and some of his friends had assembled five boats, two lorries to transport them, the necessary manpower as well as supplies for the flood relief activities they planned to do.

Ong, who said he was involved in the "boating scene", explained that the logistics behind the equipment and manpower were made possible by like-minded friends. This was not his first time doing something like this as he had helped with flood relief activities in Pahang before.

"I sent out a message on Sunday and within a day a lot of people responded to me by offering support. They were asking what we needed and how much money we needed," he said.

Once the lorries were loaded with boats and supplies, the group headed north. They immediately got to work upon arriving at their destination.

"We broke up into a few teams to carry out rescue work. We sent food to those who couldn't get out and provided a ride for those who wanted to leave," he said.

Ong explained the group was attached to the Bukit Mertajam Tengah district office and locals volunteering there helped guide them to the homes that needed help.

"They are taking us around to different housing estates and delivering food and water.

"Some people would call up on the helpline and say that this house has one old man who doesn't want to come out, so we sent some food to that particular house," said Ong.

He said that he has decided to remain with his boat and crew although the flood waters are subsiding and many of the group have returned home

"We are now on standby and it looks quite cloudy. I got the message just now and while it's not confirmed yet, it looks like it might rain again," he said, adding that the other boats would be ready to come back to Penang if required.