Flash floods struck South East Penang Island last night, on the same day when 60-70 Penangites participated in George Town in solidarity with a Global Climate March ahead of climate talks in Paris beginning today.
The crowd at the march in Penang may have been small but seeds of awareness of climate change have been planted, and this knowledge will spread as the days pass and we feel the impact impact of changing weather patterns more and more.
As for the flash floods, It is not just a question of inadequate flood mitigation, but the intensity of storms – 80mm of rain within a short time. The more frequent howling and whistling of gusts of wind, clearly audible to those living in highrise flats, is also something fairly new.
Two other factors are also contributing to flash floods.
- Over-development and high-density development without taking into account drainage infrastructure, aggravated by the missing Penang Island Local Plan.
- The clearing of hills, including Botak Hill, and the pouring of concrete and tar over many green spaces, including private gardens, has contributed to rapid surface water run-off and inadequate green cover to absorb the extra run-off. Yesterday, for instance, I noticed water gushing out from USM onto Jalan Sungai Dua close to the junction with Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.
Areas affected: Teluk Kumbar, Bayan Lepas, Batu Maung – Taman Iping, Penang International Airport, Bayan Baru, Bukit Jambul and Pesta Pulau Pinang in Sungai Dua.