Selfless in the hour of need

When floods hit parts of Selangor and caused much devastation to Shah Alam’s Taman Sri Muda as well as parts of Klang and Kuala Langat, the public was quick to act.

They put aside their own well-being and creature comforts to wade through muddy water, bringing food and other supplies for those trapped in their homes.

One volunteer in Shah Alam even died while helping flood victims.

The people who gave a helping hand did not just arrive from Selangor. They came from other states as well.

Financial services company executive Subashini Karunakaran, 28, narrated to The Star in a previous interview about how young people from Kuala Kubu Baru came to her house in four separate groups to rescue her family of five trapped in their home in Taman Sri Muda.

She said she would never forget how they had carefully, and with much care, carried her paralysed father from the first floor balcony into a waiting boat.

A group of fishermen and fishmongers from Sekinchan had also gone in their four-wheel drives to deliver food and help secure the residents out of their devastating situation.

Along the way, they also rescued some street animals that they chanced upon.

Religious groups swung into action, unsurprisingly.

The Petaling Jaya Sikh temple wasted no time in gathering volunteers of different races and faiths to help prepare food and distribute it to those in distress.

And then there were the neighbourhood mosques which opened their doors to families to take shelter in their premises, regardless of their religion.

One man, clearly thinking outside the box, brought a generator to Taman Sri Muda after the floodwaters receded so that residents could charge their phones as electricity had been cut off in the area.

Malaysia’s multiracial community came together when it mattered. They looked out for each other during the dark hours.

All the racial, religious and political differences, often played up by those seeking to divide and rule, are so insignificant when Malaysians bonded with each other with the sole goal of looking out for one another.

Hopefully, this show of unity and solidarity will remain and be further strengthened.

Amid the heroic tales, there have been niggling questions about what the relevant authorities should have done. And the timing of their action.

So far, it’s been a case of “he says, she says”. The answer is as good as anyone’s guess.

Obviously, the weather got blamed as well. But environmentalists refused to blame the rain, pointing the finger instead on unrestrained development and chopping down of trees.

Others felt that too much red tape and bureaucracy were factors why the government machinery is said to have not been swiftly activated.

Maybe it’s time that government agencies realise that some rules and conventions are not etched in stone so that quick action can be taken during emergencies and disasters.

Departmental heads and officers at local councils and City Halls must be empowered to make immediate decisions during emergencies without having to complete a pile of paperwork and obtain dozens of signatures as is the usual practice.

Take for instance the stalled heavy vehicles that are currently a big bane during the clean-up work.

Had the Shah Alam City Hall and Klang Municipal Council decided immediately to move the makeshift road dividers to allow U-turns, heavy vehicles could have been driven away from the red zones.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has admitted there were delays and weaknesses in rescue efforts in Selangor.

For now, life is slowly returning to normalcy but the memory of the floods, as well as its aftermath, will always be in the minds of Selangor residents, especially those living in Klang and Shah Alam.

Their lives have been upended, homes destroyed; some even lost their loved ones.

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Taman Sri Muda , flood , rescue


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