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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Oct 18: The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) will focus on six flood-prone states namely Sarawak, Sabah, Johor, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang as Malaysia faces the upcoming north-east monsoon that brings floods.
Its director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said based on analysis from the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the monsoon this year is expected to begin from this month until March next year.
“Throughout this time, preparedness should be at its best, given the current situation where we are facing ‘disaster in disaster’ such as floods while we are still under the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence we must follow all aspects of standard operating procedures and other restrictions as outlined by National Security Council (MKN) in handling evacuation, search and rescue.
“We have 12,500 personnel nationwide on standby and ready to be deployed to hot spots and flood-prone areas. At the same time, we have enhanced our logistics capabilities to effectively respond to floods and assist the public in the event of a disaster,” Mohammad Hamdan told reporters when met at the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department headquarters here today.
Although JBPM is focusing on six states, he asserted that it does not mean they will rule out the other states as preparations are also ongoing in other states.
“In Sarawak, we have 1,300 personnel from 36 fire stations on standby. Equipment and logistics will be placed at the forward bases in Kuching, Sibu and Miri to handle flood victims and perform search and rescue tasks much more effectively. We have identified 77 spots prone to landslides, 97 roads that may be cut off and 349 flood areas.
“Sarawak Bomba also has an air base in Miri with two aircraft to assist those living in the rural areas whereby these villagers may most likely be cut off from land route access. Our aircraft can evacuate flood victims or send emergency food aid,” he said, adding that Sarawak has the most number of fire stations in Malaysia.
While Bomba and other related agencies are ever ready, residents living in high risk areas are advised to take extra precaution and heed during this time.
Although the authorities cannot force these villagers, Mohammad Hamdan laments that many refused to evacuate with the argument that the water level is not high.
“When you are told to evacuate during a flood disaster, please listen and do so. Yes, we cannot force you, but you need to know the risk level which you are facing. Some said previous floods water never reached up to their knees, but they don’t know that the situation can change. Each year is different.
“Apart from that, you will be cut off from electricity, clean water, telecommunication and run out of food. What if you have elderly, children or handicapped family members?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Hamdan acknowledged that Sarawak has a very good management system when it comes to managing disasters.
He said the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) is already in rhythm where they are facing a disaster in a disaster, such as Covid-19 and monsoon, and yet, managing the crisis well with responsibility.
With these strengths and strong collaboration with other agencies, Mohammad Hamdan believes Bomba can do its best to serve the people.
“Of course, we pray that any level of disaster will be less severe as previous years, although experience has prompted the department to be more prepared by not only focusing on flood-prone areas but also taking precautionary measures because when disasters occur, it can also happen in other areas”, he added. — DayakDaily