SEGAMAT: A phone call from his daughter in the wee hours saved the life of 74-year-old Loo Ah Han just as Chaah was hit by heavy rain.
Recalling the anxious moments of March 1, the retiree said he was sleeping soundly and did not realise that floodwaters had entered his house.
“My daughters-in-law also live in Chaah and they were the ones who informed her about the situation here.
“I was deep asleep at that time as it was about 3am. My daughter called me several times and thankfully, I heard my phone ring at about 4am.
“As soon as I got up, I saw that my house was already flooded. I then rushed to put my things on top of some high cabinets. At that time, I did not expect the floodwaters to get that high,” he told The Star.
Loo, who lives alone, said he was busy trying to salvage his belongings when his neighbour came by and suggested he stay with them on the second floor of their shop.
“Luckily, I did as just hours later, my house was completely inundated with water.
“I would have been stuck alone in my house if my neighbour did not come with the kind offer,” he said.
Loo noted that more than 10 people from the neighbourhood stayed on the second-floor of the shop for about 24 hours as they waited for the floodwaters to recede.
“It was very cold as we were all soaked. There was also no food or water to drink.
“However, I was very grateful as I do not know how I would have survived on my own or if my daughter had not called me,” he said.
He said a majority of the people in his town were senior citizens who either lived alone or with their grandchildren.
“There are a lot of senior citizens here with their children working in the cities, especially Johor Baru, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Loo noted that more than 90% of his belongings, from furniture to electronics and his car, were damaged in the floods.
“There was no way to salvage any of them. My house is empty at the moment and I have yet to clean the place up,” he said.
Woo You Sin, 17, who lives with her grandparents, recalled that she was worried that they might faint as they waited for over 20 hours for help to arrive.
“My grandparents are both in their 70s and I was worried that they may not be able to endure the long wait as we were soaked in floodwaters.
“We stacked up some of our furniture to avoid getting wet but it was not enough.
“After waiting for hours, a boat finally arrived to send us to the nearest temporary relief centre,” she said, adding that she was grateful that her grandparents’ health was not affected.
The town of Chaah in Segamat district was among the first areas hit by severe floods on March 1.
The town was submerged for about two days with most roads connecting it to other towns cut off.
Between March 1 and 4, Segamat had the most number of flood victims in temporary relief centres with over 13,000 people at its peak.
However, starting from March 5, the number of flood evacuees in Batu Pahat had surpassed Segamat.
As of 4pm yesterday, there were only 44 people left in the two remaining temporary relief centres in the district.