Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is heavy rainfall an act of God?

Link to MSN Malaysia

Penang flooding

While some might attribute the recent heavy rainfall as an act of God, some blame it on climate change, rapid developments and inefficient drainage.

Penang experienced unusually heavy rain in the last few days and will be expecting more to come as metrological images show strong wind and vapours forming over the Indian Ocean heading over to this part of the region.
Landslides and fallen trees were reported in several parts of the island and floods afflicted many areas throughout the state. All state-related personnel are on high alert for high-tide peak hours and are closely monitoring the situation.

Chong Eng, the Penang State EXCO for Youth and Sports, Women’s Development, Family and Community was among those whose house was flooded early in the morning five days ago at Kampung Padang Lalang in Bukit Mertajam.

She said, “While climate change is beyond our human control, we in government should do whatever humanly possible to reduce flood problems.”

Much of Penang’s appraisal and opinions are established based on two phases – pre-2008 and post-2008.
“Penang government should take immediate measure to solve the flood problems. Do not play tai chi and push away responsibility by saying that it is due to "heavy rain and too much rain." The root causes are too many housing developments and 80% of rain water, instead of seeping into natural earth, is being diverted to concrete drain. In addition, our drains are outdated and too small in size to carry the increasing volume of water! Therefore, we see flood everywhere!” said Teh Leong Meng, a Gerakan member in his Facebook posting.

Penang flooding

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng announced that the Penang State Government is ready to act immediately to ensure that Phase Two of the Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation project is carried out even though this might be unpopular with the 35 residents who refused to move out of the area.

“The flood this time was due to the high tide. The Penang Municipal Council and the state Drainage and Irrigation Department also did everything that they could,” Lim said.

The Chief Minister also compared the situation at Jalan P.Ramlee where water used to rise up quickly within 2 hours of rain five years ago but has improved to 7 to 9 hours of ankle-deep water after heavy downpour now.

Welfare aids, blankets and food were distributed to the victims and temporary shelters are set up in several places where residents were evacuated to safety.

Apart from floods, submerged cars, uprooted trees, muddy terrain and traffic congestion, the bad weather also caused many potholes to appear which poses a danger to road users.

Paya Terubong State Assemblyman, Yeoh Soon Hin was quick to point out how the Federal Government had not responded to requests to resurface part of the road at Lebuhraya Thean Teik.

Elsewhere, potholes and uneven roads can be seen everywhere.

Penang Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said floods were reported mostly in the south-west district.

Among the areas were Kampung Seronok in Bayan Lepas, Kampung Masjid Teluk Kumbar, Kampung Nelayan Teluk Bahang and Kampung Trang in Pulau Betong. In Kampung Pulau Betong houses and cars were submerged up to hip level or 0.5 metres high and villagers were seen moving their belongings and valuables to higher grounds. Malaysiakini reported that 188 houses were damaged and 20 families in Pulau Betong were shifted to a nearby mosque.

Penang flooding

According to Chow, the Penang State Government has allocated an additional RM6 million for 10 new flood mitigation projects in the state to reduce and prevent flash floods. He said the projects involved the upgrading of drainage, building of pump houses and others.

Jagdeep Singh, chairman of Penang Urban and Rural Planning and Housing Committee reported that 210mm of rainfall was recorded on Saturday and the tide was 2.5m high.

Several developments were being identified as the main culprits for causing the flash floods.

'We found the flooding to be caused by incomplete drainage works, poor drainage maintenance, lack of dredging in the retention pond, shoddy drainage by the Malaysia Airports Berhad and the water seepage at the Desa Ria retention,” said Abdul Malik Kassim, chairman for the Penang Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Hamizah binti Che Mat, a 43-year-old resident in Batu Kawan had just finished cleaning her house which was flooded knee-high consecutively for two days. She claims that the nearby housing development caused the flooding.

“There was this flood and I was robbed of my belongings, too. The flood has never been this bad before.”

“I am sure this is a test from God, it could have been worse,” she said, referring to the Tsunami in December 2004 which claimed some lives in Penang.

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