As haze lifts, Terengganu braces for floods

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Source: The NST Online

KUALA TERENGGANU: It has begun raining non-stop in the east coast of the peninsula, and every millimeter of rainfall recorded poses a danger to lives and to property here.

Nevertheless, the rain has brought welcome relief after months of choking and hazardous haze.

But the arrival of the monsoon thunderstorms offers a different safety perspective.

Realising this, the Terengganu state government has established a coordinated plan with the various agencies to mitigate the annual monsoon flash -floods which are imminent.

Even the Army has been roped in along with the police, firemen, civil defence, Rela, paramedics and non-governmental organisations to ensure no effort is spared to safeguard the lives of the locals here.

Army chief Gen Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor said the monsoon floods was already in their text book of humanitarian relief effort under the military operations other than war (MOOTW).

“Out east coast camps in Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang are all up and ready for the (monsoon floods) mission.

“We are progressively upgrading existing camps not only to bolster security in the east coast but also to enhance humanitarian relief operations, as part of our duty to the country and its people,” he said.

Affandi said the Armed Forces was the lead agency in dispensing food supplies and other aid as it was well equipped and connected to handle the task.

The United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot, for example – is located at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang, Selangor.

A senior UN spokesman said the depot was the fifth such hub in the UN’s World Food Programme’s global emergency response arsenal and was designed to provide storage, logistics support and services, and deliver humanitarian relief items within 48 hours of a crisis to the region.

He said the depot operated on a US$1 million annual budget, jointly supported by the UN, Malaysia and other countries like the United States, Japan, Australia and other Asean countries.

Meanwhile, Terengganu police chief Deputy Commissioner Datuk Rosli Ab Rahman said that they were prepared to mobilise 33 boats, ten four-wheel drive vehicles and eight three-tonne lorries at any one time.

“We have trained up to 500 men to respond to emergencies like floods and natural disasters during this period.

“All district police chiefs have been alerted to have manpower readily available, especially to handle rescue vehicles.

“Our men are undergoing intensive training to handle such crisis, including being trained for rescue missions, so that they complement other relevant agencies when the need arises,” he said Terengganu’s Civil Defence Department director Lt Col Che Adam Abdul Rahman said 3,000 personnel were on standby in each district and ready to be mobilized when called upon.

“While awaiting the floods, our personnel are constantly kept on their toes with regular training on saving lives of victims and carrying out other rescue drills. “A majority are volunteers and it is a big challenge to all of us here,” he said.

Che Adam added the department had also offered village safety and welfare committees (J3K) and youth organisations training for survival skills. Terengganu Civil Defence training chief, senior staff officer Mohd Nisu Husien said the J3K committees and youth organisations had been put through various drills and techniques during the practical and theoretical sessions.

“We want them to be knowledgeable in matters concerning confidence-building in water, survival, first-aid, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, saving victims, avoiding shocks from leaking electrical lines, using and handling capsized boats, and towing large objects.

“We teach them how to handle victims who are swept away by floods. If a rescuer himself cannot swim, we teach him how to handle a rope, pole, float or other object to reach out to the drifting victims,” he said.

Nisu added such emergency response programmes also groomed participants to become leaders during crisis situations.

“Someone has to take charge during a crisis to ensure the smooth rescue operations, while awaiting the authorities. Time is of the essence and crucial for survival,” said Nisu.