Monsoon flood preparedness measures already in place, says Uggah

Uggah (centre) fielding questions from reporters.

KUCHING, Oct 2: Over 15,000 personnel and 1,100 assets from various government agencies are ready for deployment as the state prepares for the Northeast Monsoon season from November till March.

The State National Disaster Management Committee has also prepared 610 evacuation and relief centres statewide that can cater for 203,960 people, said its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Uggah, who is also deputy chief minister, said the state Welfare Department has set up 16 forward supply bases in Kuching (2), Kapit (4), Bintulu (3) and Miri (7), as well as three stores and depots in Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Miri, with 165 suppliers, for the eventuality of flood in the coming months.

Flood emergency operation centres in each division across the state is also ready to be triggered, with the respective residents to lead the divisional disaster management committees.

“This time around, a series of monsoon rain is expected to focus on western Sarawak. During the northeast monsoon, continuous rain expected to last between three and five days could cause flood situations in low-lying areas and flood-prone areas.

“If the prolonged rain happens during king tide, the risk of flood would only worsen. It is estimated that water levels during the high tide could reach as high as 6.5 metres,” Uggah told a press conference at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today, after chairing a committee meeting in preparation for the monsoon season.

He said that monitoring by the meteorological department predicted Bintulu and Miri will receive rainfall averaging 300mm and 500mm between November and December.

Kuching, Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Mukah and Sibu divisions are expected to be hit with rainfall between 400mm and 550mm in December-January.

In February, Kuching and Samarahan could embrace for another wet month, with rainfall expected to reach up to 600mm-700mm.

As the state is experiencing a transition in monsoon weather from now till mid-November, Uggah said heavy rain and thunderstorms, added with strong winds, will occur more often in the evening in most areas throughout the state especially Kuching, Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah, Kapit and Bintulu.

When asked on areas that could be affected by flood, the deputy chief minister said it is hard to predict considering that Kuching was worst hit in 2016, Baram in 2017 and Selangau this year.

Most importantly, the assets including rescue and relief personnel are ready to be mobilised, he added.

Among the assets ready for deployment include five helicopters, 172 lorries, 549 four-wheel-drive vehicles, 283 boats, 109 ambulances and five drones. Personnel including those from the military, Fire and Rescue Department, police, Welfare Department, Health Department, Civil Defence Force and People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela).

Kuching has the most evacuation centres at 139, followed by Miri at 107, Samarahan (36), Serian (35), Sri Aman (38), Betong (30), Sarikei (29), Sibu (53), Kapit (28), Mukah (32), Bintulu (58) and Limbang (25).