Help was slow for flood victims – Mat Sabu

A house still under waters in Sri Muda, Shah Alam as of late Monday afternoon.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 – Many people were stranded for hours during the floods in Klang and proper help was slow in coming, said Member of Parliament for Kota Raja, Mohamad Sabu at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Many fishermen were ready to use their boats but this was not proper as what was really needed were the boats of the armed forces, police and civil defence forces, and these were late in coming, said Mohamad Sabu as the subject of cash assistance for those affected by the weekend floods took stage at the Parliament today.

Mohamad Sabu said more than immediate cash assistance, people needed to be rescued from the floods, he said, adding that he himself was stuck in a petrol station for eight hours.

The police and armed forces boats should have come earlier and not 24 hours later, he said.

At the height of the floods in Klang on Saturday night, many residents in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, trapped in their homes with the ground floors of their houses fully inundated in flood waters, started resorting to Facebook postings and calling relatives and friends to help them.

Some could not get through the busy hotline numbers they had in hand, and instead reached out to voluntary groups that were working overnight from Saturday to Sunday and continuing on to Monday to coordinate help for these individuals.

Many NGOs took an active role in bringing help to those stranded. Later Sunday, they also started working with the armed forces and other authorities in locating those who needed help.

They also kept track of those who were rescued and stayed online with those who waited for more than 24 hours before help reached them.

Seven people were reported to have died in the floods and some people are yet to be accounted for.

While National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) director-general Datuk Aminuddin Hassim said many had refused to evacuate when flood waters began to rise in Taman Sri Muda, one resident who was rescued along with his family late on Sunday, said unlike in 1995 when a siren sound was alerted to warn residents of an impending flood, there was none this time.

He said the siren warning came quite late and only after the water had risen and it was too late for the residents to evacuate.

Meanwhile, National news agency BERNAMA reported that 21,000 people nationwide had been evacuated to various relief centers in the country following the floods in parts of the country.

The rescue operations were carried out through the Malaysia Emergency Response Services (MERS) 999, an integrated system combining the emergency services of five agencies which consist of the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP), Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (FRDM), Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and Department of Civil Defense (DCD) in one ICT platform to handle and channel calls and emergency information through one number, which is 999.

Personnel from different departments were mobilized to rescue people from vehicles marooned in floodwaters and from flooded streets outside their homes.

Housing and Local Government minister Datuk Seri  Reezal Merican Naina was reported saying that the Taman Sri Muda area which has around 4,400  houses will be the main focus area of the rescue operation.

“Apart from that, the assets that we have here include 41 rescue boats, and this does not include boats from non-governmental bodies. Rescue efforts are quite difficult and there are homes where water is stagnant. However, efforts to distribute food are going on,” the minister said during a press conference at the Taman Sri Muda relief centre Monday afternoon.

— WE