KOTA BARU, Dec 29 — Water levels in Kelantan’s capital are starting to recede but life for locals remain far from normal as food remains scarce and key services such as banking are still unavailable.
The scarcity has forced of the locals to rely on aid from the state government or to ration whatever supplies they managed to get at the initial stage of the flood.
Residents here say staples such as rice and wheat have long been exhausted out while other stocks including bread and eggs are disappearing from the market shelves fast.
“Things like rice and wheat have run out for days now. We can’t even get eggs anymore. Even the vegetables are gone,” Wahid, an Indian Muslim who owns a 50-year-old coffee stall in the town centre, told Malay Mail Online.
Wahid’s stall is among the few rare ones open today after water around Jalan Hamzah situated east of the Kelantan River receded early this morning.
Jalan Hamzah and the surrounding areas were among the most badly hit by the floods as the heavy downpour in Kuala Krai and Gua Musang pushed water down the Kelantan River and spilled over into town.
Malay Mail Online journalists deployed to the state tried to get breakfast at Wahid’s stall but the owner said whatever limited food he had, which were packets of rice and beef curry, had been immediately snapped up by locals.
“They came and packed a lot of it. They were gone in seconds,” he said.
Another resident here, Wan Mohd Syaril, said he hoped normalcy would resume soon as conditions are improving.
“We are currently surviving on food we stock up before the floods. I can still eat rice but sometimes I would have to eat bread,” the 24 year-old told Malay Mail Online.
His friend Norizzati, wearing a blue hijab, said her family is now surviving on bread, sardine and eggs.
“But we are running out of eggs, too,” she said.
Another friend, Syakira, also said her family is relying on supplies stocked up before the flood hit, but they are also running low.
But all three said they were still grateful as most town residents could still get supplies compared to those in the interior, where food is extremely scarce as land routes cut off by high water level made it difficult for aid to arrive.
“Prices have obviously been raised but we can still eat rice at least. I don’t think we are as bad as those in the villages,” Wan Mohd said.
Meanwhile other crucial supplies such as fuel are still stable, but banks that remain closed made it difficult for some businesses to operate due to problems like the lack of change.
“We can’t even accept money from some customers who want to fill in petrol in their bikes as we are running out of small change.
“Since the banks are closed we had to rely on small currency given by customers,” one petrol station attendant told Malay Mail Online.
Although floodwaters are gradually receding in Kuala Krai and Kota Baru, meteorologists have warned that the worst is not yet over in Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu.
Relief centres around here are gradually seeing evacuees returning home but they remain packed with families weary of reports that more downpour is expected in the next few days.
Reports continue to pour in on overcrowded shelters, intermittent communications services, shortage of food and water supply, rescue efforts hampered by power outages, and roads that have been washed away by the floods.
A total of five deaths were recorded in Kelantan, three in Pahang and two in Terengganu to date, according to data from the National Security Council published on its website.
The extent of the worst flooding in decades has been such that Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is overseeing the government’s flood relief efforts, has warned that floods are worse than anticipated, saying that assets currently deployed were inadequate to face the floods of such proportions.