Malaysia Floods – Over 1,000 Remain Homeless in Sabah and Sarawak

The ebb and flow of the floods in Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo has made it difficult to report a true picture of the current flood situation.

The floods first struck in Sarawak around 18 January 2015, when over 3,000 people were displaced. Many were able to return home soon after, only to find that more heavy rain caused further flooding, forcing them to evacuate once again.

Since then the floods have spread to affect parts of Sabah state, Malaysia, and also parts of Indonesia.

The latest figures regarding evacuees say that 1,027 people (983 in Sarawak) and remain in relief centres in the two affected states – a fall from 1,677 the previous day.

The hardest hit areas include Kelantan, Sarawak, where 255 people remain in temporary accommodation. It is understood houses of the victims in Kelantan have been either severely damaged or destroyed in the floods. The worst affected areas in Sabah state are said to be Beaufort and Membakut.

Floods in Sarawak, Malaysia, January 2015. Photo: BOMBA
Floods in Sarawak, Malaysia, January 2015. Photo: BOMBA

Further Heavy Rainfall

More heavy rain was seen in parts of Borneo over the last 48 hours.

According to WMO, 87.6 mm of rain fell yesterday in Bintulu, Sarawak. In Sibu, Sarawak, 98 mm of rain fell in 24 hours between 25 and 26 January 2015.

Heavy rain has also affected neighbouring areas in Borneo. Over 117 mm of rain was recorded in Brunei between 24 an 25 January, and 151 mm of rain fell in Putussibau, Indonesia, during the same period.

Reforestation and Desilting

Meanwhile in today’s edition of the New Straits Times, the recent flooding in Sarawak and Sabah have been blamed on deforestation. NST say that although great floods have occurred in the region many times before…

“Development, and perhaps illegal activities have greatly reduced the extent of the original forests in the river basins of the major rivers in the country, consequently reducing their soil and water retention capacity. This has resulted in many rivers rapidly silting up and overflowing their banks during the rainy months”.

The article concludes that:

“In the long term to reduce the silt from the rivers, forest cover should be increased in the upper reaches of the rivers. This is more cost effective than building dams, and would reduce the impact of future floods”.