The nation has been stunned by the havoc wreaked by the annual floods hitting the East Coast states this year. Tens of thousands of victims had to be evacuated from their homes, and many more have incurred substantial losses.
I went to survey the affected areas in Kuantan, Rompin, and Pekan at the earliest opportunity, meeting the victims who have made the flood relief centres their makeshift home. Despite having their lives turned upside down, I could see the upbeat spirit and tremendous resilience on the faces of these affected families.
At the temporary relief centre in Sekolah Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, Pekan – where 500 flood victims were placed – the victims revealed how much more challenging the floods would have been for them had no one come forward to provide much-needed aid.
In the beginning, the non-stop downpour hindered rescue operations, cutting off access to the victims, but the initial problems were soon resolved. Well done to all government agencies such as the Health Department and other departments involved as well as the village heads who gave their all to ensure that basic supplies reached the victims.
I am also overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern shown by so many Malaysians towards the flood victims. Various parties have come forward to offer contributions in the form of labour, money, and even moral support. Their compassion and efforts have truly showcased the meaning of 1Malaysia, as everybody came together to help regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
The federal and state governments will do their best to ensure that the lives of those affected by the floods will return to normal. Many people have been unable to work and provide for their families, and the economies of states affected by the floods have suffered from this disaster.
These extreme floods and the recent mud flood that hit Cameron Highlands last October are strong indicators of the climate change facing our planet. There will be more natural disasters and they will worsen. It is critical that the federal and state governments perform a thorough re-evaluation of the systems and procedures in place to mitigate floods and other natural disasters. We must be better equipped to face bigger challenges brought about by global climate change. This includes reviewing rescue and relief efforts, temporary re-location of victims, dissemination of information and disaster warnings, as well as efforts to rehabilitate affected areas and resume normal economic activities.
In the meantime, I urge Malaysians to step forward and help the victims in these trying times. Each contribution you make is a promise of hope for them.