From late December onwards heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding in the Malaysian states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak. At least 21 people died in the floods, which forced 200,000 people to evacuate their homes. According to the Malaysian Government, as of 2 January, almost 85,000 remained in shelters.
Kelantan Floods Labelled Worst in History
Malaysia’s National Security Council (NSC) said that the recent floods in Kelantan were the worst recorded in the history of the state. River levels in December 2014 exceeded those of recent record floods of 2004 and 1967.
Local media reported that in their report on the floods, the water level of Sungai Kelantan at Tambatan DiRaja, which has a danger level of 25 metres, reached 34.17 metres last month compared to 29.70 metres in 2004 and 33.61 metres in 1967.
The levels at Tangga Krai, which has a danger level of 5 metres, reached 7.03 metres compared to 6.70 metres in 2004 and 6.22 metres in 1967.
Damage caused by the recent flooding in parts of north and eastern Malaysia is likely to exceed RM1 billion (almost $300 million), according to Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian.
Kelantan’s Flood Disaster Operations Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed was quoted as saying that flood damage in Kelantan alone would reach RM200 million.
According to local media Malayan Railways – Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) has estimated that losses and damage caused by the floods will reach almost RM250 million.
Further Heavy Rain Predicted
The Malaysian Meteorological Department said earlier today that the monsoon surge that brought flooding to many eastern states late in December is set to move south. Johor and Sarawak states are likely to see heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours, lasting up to 3 days, with possible flooding as a result.
Severe weather warnings have already been issued for the districts of Lawas, Mukah and Dalat in Sarawak after thunderstorms struck earlier today, 05 January 2015.
The flooding in many areas has now receded and the clear up begun. However some remain without clean drinking water and electricity. There is also fear of the spread of water-borne diseases.
The Malaysian Star reported that:
…residents are worried about diseases caused by contaminated water, rubbish and carcasses.
The stink from rotten food and garbage is pervasive everywhere, from the town centre to the villages.
The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been one of the first to suffer. His office announced today that the Prime Minister has contracted E. coli and after visiting the flood-affected areas.
Illegal Logging and Lack of Investment Blamed
NSC secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab blmaed the floods and landslides on the extensive (and in many cases illegal) logging and land clearing in Pahang, according to Malaysian Media.
Elsewhere there is anger at the lack of investment in flood defences, particularly in Kelantan. In her article in Free Malaysia Today, Mariam Mokhtar says:
The reason for the flooding in Kelantan is not just the extensive logging, nor is it God’s wrath or climate change or PAS or Umno Baru. The real reason for the disastrous floods in Kelantan is decades of neglect and under-investment by the government – both state and federal. It is also the people’s lack of will to force Putrajaya to provide the badly needed national funds to build flood defences and develop the state.