Excited for Christmas but worried about flood
12 Dec 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
PENAMPANG: Christmas is nearing and that means happy and joyful time with family and friends, but for Penampang folks, that could also mean it is time to prepare for flood occurrence.
This is because December is a monsoon season with rain falling an average of 24.7 days and regularly aggregates up to 84mm of precipitation, and that Penampang has been repeatedly ravaged by floodwaters throughout the year of 2021.
Jessica Lo, a resident of Kg Sugud whose place was among the most severely affected by floods, is excited to embrace the Christmas month, but she and her family could not help but formulate an escape plan in case their celebration gets ruined by heavy rain, and then flash floods.
“It has been a traumatising year for us. Each time it flooded, it only got worse. Therefore, for Christmas this year, we will not decorate our house with ornaments in case it gets flooded again. We also made sure to keep all electrical appliance on the second floor since the first flash floods event that occurred this year.
“We have also started packing our clothes and essential items in our luggage so that we can just carry them with us and sprint to my cousin’s in Tuaran instead, in case it rains heavily days prior to actual Christmas day,” she told Nabalu News, recently.
According to Jessica, her family suffered almost RM600,000 in property damage – her house was almost completely wiped out in flood and their vehicles suffered major disrepair.
“This does not include the amount of distress it has caused to our mental health. That’s why we would do anything to ensure we can celebrate Christmas peacefully together, even if we had to escape from our own home,” she stated.
The 32-year-old travel agent also revealed that her family is considering of letting go their land but are heavy-hearted as they have lived there their whole life.
The consideration was made after the recollections of having to spend one whole month to clean all the muds and debris caused by the floods, while suffering water cuts at the same time.
“Although we received financial support from the government and other kind bodies and agencies, it has never been enough to recover what was lost. All of us had to dig into our life savings to repair the damage.”
When asked her opinion on reasons of recurring flash floods in Penampang, Jessica blamed the Pan Borneo Highway construction as the main contributor.
“I have lived my entire life here in Kg Sugud and although floods happened from time to time, it has never been this bad and frequent. I believe the Pan Borneo Highway is the major contributor to the recurring floods here.
“But I believe with the flood mitigation programme underway right now, things will be okay again.”
She also opined that the government should conduct a proper study on the cause of flash floods and formulate medium and long-term flood mitigation strategies.