Helping each other during hard times

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 08 Nov 2017

Cozy corner: Ariffin and Tengku Rohani in their tent at the flood evacuation centre in Seberang Prai.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Despite the difficult times, Penang flood victims are doing what they can to help and comfort each other.

At the Seberang Prai district land office in Jalan Betek which was turned into an evacuation centre, many of the 300 people seeking shelter have formed new friendships and built mutual trust despite being from different backgrounds and races.

“When we arrived at the evacuation centre, everyone there comforted us and offered clothing and food,” said retiree Ariffin Hassan, 70, who is seeking shelter with his wife Tengku Rohani Tengku Saad, 62.

Ariffin, from Padang Lalang, said he and his wife did not have time to pack clothes or other items when they were evacuated on Saturday night, as the water level at his village rose quickly that night.

“We are worried as our belongings in the house have been submerged in waist-high water,” said Ariffin. He is hoping for the flood to end soon so he can check on the damage to his house and belongings.

Food caterer K. Kumaradevan, 40, described the incident as the worst throughout his 22 years staying in Taman Sungai Rambai.

“When all seems lost, we realised we are not alone. Other families are here as well, and we saw the need to support each other in this difficult time.”

Kumaradevan and his family had to wade through floodwater which had risen to more than 1m until they reached a main road.

They then stopped a passing vehicle which took them to the evacuation centre.

At the centre, all was calm and Kumaradevan’s family comprising his aunt, 56, sister, 38 and nephew, 15, got a tent for themselves.

“Our selfishness fades away, and everyone here comforts each other,” said Kumaradevan.

Choo Gaik Sim, 62, said the rising flood felt like ocean waves pounding her single-storey home.

“When the refrigerator fell and the water rose up to above my waist, I grabbed a bag I had packed with clothes earlier for an upcoming trip.

“No help came until about 2am on Sunday, when rescuers on a boat knocked on my house door,” said Choo.

Choo, her 22-year-old daughter, 12-year-old grandson and 11-year-old granddaughter got on the boat which took them to the evacuation centre.

Choo said her heart sank when she was later told that the water rose to 1.5m in her home.

At the centre, volunteers are working tirelessly to provide comfort and cater to needs, especially the elderly and children.

Jothi Zhen Hao , 31, a coordinator at the centre, said victims were served cooked meals.

They were also given dry food items such as biscuits, bread, instant noodles and cakes, as well as toiletry items.

“About 50 volunteers from the One Hope Charity and Welfare group and members of the Tzu Chi Foundation are helping to aid victims here and in Kota Permai, Permatang Rawa, Permatang Tinggi and Juru.

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