KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government assures families displaced in flood-stricken districts in the state that they will receive financial aid.
State Community Development and People’s Well-being Minister Datuk James Ratib said the assistance will be distributed the soonest possible to alleviate the burdens faced by those affected.
He said this was on top of the food baskets to be given to the flood victims.
He added, however, the amount of the cash assistance has yet to be determined but will be announced soon.
“What’s important is that we try to help ease the difficulties faced by these families caused by the floods,” he told reporters at a temporary flood shelter in the northern Kota Marudu district on Thursday (Jan 26).
Ratib said, in the meantime, his Ministry will expedite efforts to provide food supplies to victims at all flood relief centres.
He said about 15,000 food packs have been readied by the government to be distributed to those affected by the disaster.
“As we are all aware, not all flood victims were relocated to the flood shelters as there are residents who were cut off (from their villages) due to the floods.
“We will find ways to ensure these victims also receive help with the help of rescue agencies,” he said.
Meanwhile, flood responders are having a tough time convincing some flood-hit villagers to evacuate from their homes in Kota Marudu and neighbouring Pitas, the two districts worst hit by the floods.
Sabah Fire and Rescue Department assistant director of operations Misran Bisara said this was one of the main challenges faced by his men during their evacuation efforts since they started on Tuesday (Jan 24).
“Some of the villagers who resided in flood-prone areas refused to budge, subsequently putting their safety as well as their families’ at risk.
“Besides that, we can’t optimise our assets because our boats or lorries were not able to go against the strong water currents,” he said, when met after inspecting the situation in the two districts.
“However, we will try our best to relocate affected residents to the flood shelters,” he added.
Misran said the department has worked out a plan to ensure there would be disaster responders from their agency available for duty around-the-clock at flood-hit areas.
He said more assets and men would also be mobilised to transfer those displaced by the floods, adding they have dispatched a further 40 firemen as well as four each of their lorries, four-wheel drive vehicles and boats to help in rescue efforts in Pitas.
He noted this was needed as the nearest fire station from Pitas, which is Sabah’s northernmost district, was 50km away in Kota Marudu.