KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 ― Conditions are improving in flood-ravaged Penang with evacuees already returning home except for two districts still affected by flood water from Kedah, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
The number of evacuees caused by flood waters gushing in from Kedah is far bigger than those hit by the downpour over the weekend with 1284 families and 5,102 people still seeking shelter at flood relief centres, the DAP secretary-general said.
“The state government has instructed the Department of Water and Irrigation, Penang Water Corporation and other agencies to try to pump out the water back into the river when the river level has receded, to try to speed up the reduction of flood waters,” Lim said in a statement.
“We hope that this will allow the residents to go back earlier, and the Penang state government can only urge patience and understanding in this very trying times,” he added.
Currently, 821 families with 3,381 people are still sheltering at Seberang Perai Utara District and 463 families with 1721 people at Seberang Perai Tengah District, areas close to the Kedah border.
Lim said the heavy rains and floods in Kedah have caused record volume of water to gush down Penang's rivers, overflowing the river banks in the state on the way to the sea.
“This has the unfortunate effect of flooding parts of Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Tengah Districts near the river banks up to 3 feet, even though there is not a single drop of rain,” he said.
Lim added that Penang was unfortunate to have been hit by “a triple whammy” ― experiencing the spillover effects from not just the Damrey Typhoon that hit Vietnam on November 4, but also the unprecedented rain winds as strong as 40 miles per hour.
The Penang island and Seberang Prai deal with flash floods regularly but the rain and floods that hit the state on November 4 and 5 was the state's worse in decades.
Seven people, mostly the elderly, were killed by the disaster.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during his visit there yesterday said the government has approved RM150 million worth of projects to help mitigate floods in the state.
He said the fund was part of the RM1 billion allocated under the Malaysian Development Plan for medium and long term flood mitigation projects in Penang.
But Lim said the announcement was not for new allocations, as reported by the media.
“The RM150 million mentioned by the Prime Minister was a previously approved announcement made last year on November 8, 2016 by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar,” he said.
“The Penang state government thanks the Prime Minister for his visit and his willingness to seriously consider disbursing RM1 billion already approved under the previous Malaysia 5-year plans.
“The Penang state government’s focus at the moment is to continue with the relief and rescue work to ensure that the situation can normalise quickly,” Lim added.