Home gone, but M'sian flood victim glad to be alive
Her face was expressionless as she watched the workers destroy what remained of her house.
Mrs Jarah Awang Hamat, 67, is one of the many victims of the severe flooding that has devastated the Malaysian state of Kelantan this month.
The New Paper visited Manik Urai, one of the villages hit hardest by the rising waters.
Many of the wooden houses that are common in this small village had been ripped from their foundations and shifted several metres from their original location. Others simply don't exist any more.
Mrs Jarah's house was swept off its foundation onto the town's main road, blocking access to vehicles bringing much needed food to the area.
Bulldozers had to be brought in to remove what remained of her home.
"What to do? I'm sad that they have to destroy my home, but I'm just thankful that I'm alive," said the widow, who has nine children.
Mrs Jarah, who lives with her youngest daughter, told us what she went through in the early hours of Dec 23.
With the waters rising up to her chest, she was rescued by a fellow villager on a small sampan.
She was ferried a short distance to the relative safety of the bridge that connects Manik Urai to the relatively newer township of Manik Urai Baru.
She then had to wade through knee-high water into town to seek shelter in a clinic in Manik Urai Baru, which had been turned into a temporary relief centre that night.
Her second-youngest daughter, Miss Siti Saleha Sudin, 26 returned from Kuala Lumpur on Dec 26 after her younger sister told her about the rising flood waters.
"We didn't expect the flood to be this bad this year," said Miss Siti, who was glad to see her mother safe. "The waters don't usually rise so high, but this year, it completely engulfed the town," added the administrative assistant.
"It was like a tsunami had gone though the village," she said.
According to her, the waters subsided enough for the villagers to return to their houses last Friday .
"I'm thankful for the help that the villagers rendered my mother," she said.
"She wants to stay and rebuild her home, but for now, I think I will take her back to Kuala Lumpur to stay with me," she said.
MAJOR ROADS TO KOTA BARU OPENED
As of yesterday, the floodwaters had subsided enough for major roads heading towards Kelantan's capital, Kota Baru, to be opened.
Nine people have drowned in the state since the floods struck the east coast.
Kelantan police chief Deputy Commissioner Mazlan Lazim said three bodies were found in Kota Baru, four in Pasir Mas, and two in Tumpat.
"We have yet to locate a three-year-old child in Pasir Mas and three people said to be missing in Kuala Krai," he said, adding that police have formed eight teams to check on looting.
The Malaysian National Security Council said that "exceptionally high" water levels had cut off rescuers from relief centres as the death toll rose to 21 across the north-east.
Fifteen people have been killed in neighbouring southern Thailand.
Most of the criticism was directed at Prime Minister Najib Razak, who visited Kelantan yesterday, for his absence as the disaster unfolded. He had been photographed playing golf with US president Barack Obama in Hawaii.
"No matter how prepared we are, there will always be a bigger and more devastating disaster that tests the capability and resources of the country," the council said in a statement to online news portal, the Malaysian Insider.
Opposition member Tony Pua denounced the government's reluctance to declare a state of emergency and its "complete lack of urgency" in calling a council meeting.
"We are running a headless government with no urgent, cohesive and proactive response to the arising chaos," Mr Pua said in a statement.
Singapore yesterday sent two C130 planes with water purifiers and operators to Kelantan.
"No matter how prepared we are, there will always be a bigger and more devastating disaster that tests the capability and resources of the country."
- The Malaysian National Security Council
Donors dump underwear, old shoes at collection points
Malaysia may be experiencing the worst flooding in decades, but that has not stopped some people from using flood donation centres as a dumping ground for their unwanted items.
Among the "rubbish" dumped at the centres were unwashed pieces of underwear, old and dirty clothes and worn out shoes.
Some of those who donated such items even scolded volunteers when they were told that their items were not needed.
Muslim Care Society Malaysia secretary, Abdul Razak Mohamed, 45, said he was grateful for the contributions and voluntary help given by the public, but expressed disappointment with the attitude of such donors.
Since the country's worst flooding in 30 years began, donations in cash and in kind have been pouring in for the victims, the New Straits Times reported.
Ten people have been killed so far and more than 219,000 displaced from their homes, local media reported yesterday.
Although the waters were beginning to recede yesterday, more bad weather has been forecast for the next two days.
Intermittent-to-heavy showers have been predicted for the north-eastern states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.
Mr Abdul Razak told the New Straits Times at the operations centre in Shah Alam, Selangor, that the inconsiderate donors have made his team's job more difficult as they now have to spend extra time sorting through the donated items to identify the usable clothes. They also have to dispose of unsuitable items.
Muslim Care activist, Amina Tahir, 25, said: "Some donors scolded us and accused us of being too selective, but some understood after we explained the situation and opted to donate cash or food instead.
"Some even returned to the operation centre with new clothes they had bought...nicely sorted according to type and size."
Mr Abdul Razak said that people must think of their donations as their presents to the needy and give items that are still in good condition.
He said: "We have to be more sensitive (to) the victims' emotions after losing everything in the flood."
The centres had stopped accepting clothes two days after they began their operation last Friday, but they are still accepting clean prayer robes, sarongs and blankets.
Mr Abdul Razak said they still have about 50 tonnes of clothes to sort out.
He also said the victims needed food, water and supplies more than clothes.