KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — The National Security Council's (NSC) disaster management suffered a "complete collapse" at the district level in the peninsula's east coast, as its staff were among the hundreds of thousands beset by arguably the worst flooding in decades.
NSC secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab was quoted by English daily The Star as saying that they were unable to execute their disaster management plan on the ground as their district level teams could not deploy.
"In the districts, the frontliners of our disaster management machinery include the village headman and district officers. But due to the magnitude of the floods, most districts were completely inundated.
"Our entire district machinery collapsed as they had become victims themselves," he was quoted as saying in the report.
Thajudeen said they were severely disadvantaged during the peak of the floods between December 23 and 27, when it had been virtually "impossible" to access many areas, especially with the lack of communication as power was cut to avoid electrocution.
He said their biggest problem was figuring out where help was needed and the extent of the damage caused by the floods in each district, despite having managed to stockpile donations of food and supplies from the public and companies.
"We could not use heavy vehicles; the currents were too strong to use boats and the winds were too turbulent to go by air," he said of the five-day period.
Thajudeen said the situation has become "slightly better" with the receding flood waters, allowing aid to be delivered by air and on the ground, but noted that there were still several areas where helicopters could not land.
A total of five deaths were recorded in Kelantan, three in Pahang and two in Terengganu to date, according to data published by the NSC on its website.
As at 8am today, a total of 235,218 people have been evacuated from their homes in Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Johor, Perlis, Selangor and Kedah.
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.
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.
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.