Howling winds, floods haunt Penangites as rain lashes through the night

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Barely a week after Penang Forum 8’s Dialogue on Floods, prolonged heavy rain is lashing the state, inundating several streets.

The freakish winds are so strong that one resident in a high-rise tower said her apartment was swamped with sheets of water penetrating through the windows. “I have removed half a dozen pails of water so far.” Hard to imagine.

Blog visitor Ain writes:

1.40am….. I can’t sleep, friends on whatsapp telling their houses flooded, roof wind angkat, they can’t sleep fear water may rise, fear strong wind….

I’m not going to be heran anymore, if the whole island is gonna be flooded pretty soon, and that’s gonna be the new norm – water elevation.

I’m not going to be heran if hail drops followed by tornadoes here.

Places never flooded before are now flooding.
Places that have stopped flooding are now flooding.
Climate change. Bukit botak. Low pressure. What else? Island tilting/sinking?

Change diet also can’t help, more terok, when someone loves Botaking the hills non stop.

We Penangites need to address this seriously.

Areas affected by floods are P Ramlee Road, Kimberly Street, Mcnair Street, Pesara King Edward, Carnavon Street, Melayu Street, Petani Road, Paya Terubong… heck, you add to the list.

Blog visitor tunglang reports:

Taman Lumba Kuda also flooded. Passed by the Jalan Air Itam/Taman Lumba Kuda junction at 5.10pm, saw Rela guys blocking entry, many cars parking along the service road in front of Petron Station. A bit further down, the Sungai Air Hitam river water was almost breaking its river bank; the same opposite at Masjid Negeri. Less than 10 feet before flooding the main road.

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Seeing the angry river flowing with such might and torrent, I would never want to jump in for a swim. Sungai Air Hitam should be renamed as Sungai Milo Susu Kau Kau!

Went to Trengganu Road (section from smallest roundabout till Jalan Air Itam), but saw no flood!

A video circulating around shows flooded streets around the heavily built up Spice Convention Centre.

On the mainland, parts of Prai, Bukit Tengah, are Raja Uda are among the areas swamped. One resident of Chai Leng Park reports that the water level at the back of his house is rising. “The wind is howling, and the streets are covered with water.”

So how many months of rainfall is it in a single day? Can anyone – apart from Trump – doubt that climate change is upon us?

The federal government should give Penang whatever is due for flood mitigation. It would be scandalous to withhold any funds.

But flood mitigation projects are just remedial measures and can only go so far.

Over-development (unsustainable development) and hill-slope degradation only makes things worse. Can you imagine – the state government has increased the maximum density allowed more than four-fold in the last decade – from 30 homes per acre to 128 homes per care last year (180 homes per acre for low-cost homes). This blog tried hard over the last decade to warn that we should go easy with rampant property development and hill-clearing.  Penang Forum tried too. To no avail.

What happened to our Penang Island Local Plan, which was approved by the full council of the MPPP in early 2008 under the previous BN administration and then approved later that year (with minimal changes) by the MPPP under the new Pakatan administration? Why was it never put up on public display for feedback and then gazetted? Who held it back?

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Has the Penang Structure Plan, now being reviewed, taken into account climate change? If not, it should be sent back to the drawing board. Seriously.

How about checking out this Aliran talk on Climate Change on Tuesday, 21 November?

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Sleepless Saturday + Sunday.
    The howling started around 10pm Saturday. Sliding glass door panes were vibrating to the unearthly howling of angry winds, as if some unseen entities were just outside my balcony trying to get in. The behaviour & intensity of howling wind seemed intelligent, trying to manipulate our fear of the unknown Nature. Throwing rain intermittently added to our anxiety of another flood. It seemed like long hours.
    At 2am Sunday, I was alerted by my daughter of flood water coming into gate at security guard post. Surreal? It never happened before! And I could see Lebuhraya Thean Teik flooded as high as a truck wheel! Witnessed a tree falling onto some cars, people frantically running out of their vehicles. Diners were stuck at McDonalds, taken by surprised on a Saturday > Sunday early morning rendezvous.
    In-laws requested our help as water rose quickly in their 2 houses. The muddy flood water at a retention pond @ Taman Lau Geok Swee had breached its bank, which explained the flooding of Lebuhraya Thean Teik. No alert was given to residents nearby. A dejavu? Actually, I had a nightmare decade ago that Lebuh Rambai & Lebuhraya Thean Teik were flooded like a torrent river by water from a swollen retention pond.
    From 3am till 6.30am Sunday, I went to help my in-laws as their houses were flooded 3ft of water + mud.
    As I walked with my wife, on the way I saw sands, tree branches, broken pieces of tar, green MBPP dustbins (yes, heavy & lifted by water), a child’s helmet, plastic pots, & of course mud.
    The road at my in-laws’ house was covered with thick (3inches) slippery mud making it dangerous even for motorcycles. Cleaning up a flooded home was no easy task as there was mud everywhere. Sticky, slippery & damn it. I asked my mother-in-law how was it compared to 15 September flooding. “More mud, more water”
    12.30pm Sunday. Went to clean up my friend’s office at Jalan Trengganu – more mud & flood water. Nearly 3.5ft of flooding, front door glass panel of 3mm thick broken by flood water! Refrigerator wrestled down! And more mud, more water.
    Q: Why MORE MUD? The howling winds brought them from Vietnam?

    Sleepless weekend, back breaking Sunday. No more howling wind tonight, pls.

  2. Anil, truly a sleepless night>early morning in Penang!
    My instinctive hunch (looking at Paya Terubong botak hill slopes) a week ago was not an imagination.
    Hope everyone is safe.

  3. 2.00am Sunday.
    Road at side of ECONSAVE (Lone Pine Condominium) is now flooded. Lebuhraya Thean Teik (in front of McDonald) also flooded. Never in the history of Paya Terubong has this happened!
    Sleepless night indeed!

  4. 1.40am….. I can’t sleep, friends on whatsapp telling their house flooded, roof wind angkat, they can’t sleep fear water may rise, fear strong wind….

    I m not going to be heran anymore, if the whole island gonna be flooded pretty soon, and that’s gonna be the new norm water elevation.

    I m not going to heran if hails drop n follow by tornadoes here.

    Places never flood before now flood.
    Places stopped flooding now flood.
    Climate change. Bukit botak. Low Pressure. What else? Island tilting / sinking?

    Change diet also can’t help, more terok, when someone loves Botaking the hills non stop.

    We Penangites need to address this seriously.

    When Kelantan teruk flooding, CM said kerajaan kelantan tak reti urus state.
    So fast Karma came Penang now getting worst n worst with flood. DAP said Tuhan bg hujan.

    Next time if 50feet Tsunami came, don’t tell us the same ayat Tuhan bagi Tsunami.

  5. 11.50pm Saturday night.
    Howling, freaking winds. Window glass panes shaking in terror. Birds in trees crying for mercy.
    Howling like crying ghosts never heard before. Is it not Nature lashing back?
    And the rain keeps falling with the speeding winds.

    Now, this is making us Penangites sleepless tonight!
    More potent than Kopi-O kau kau!

  6. Please correct me if I am wrong.I vaguely remember reading that the Federal government had allocated to Penang RM 150 million in 2017 for flood control. And I also remember reading that only RM1 million has been released for the studies on flood control and the balance has been withheld or there is a purposeful delay in disbursement. Is this the Federal government’s way of punishing Penang???

    • How about MPSP way punishing Penangite?
      Why they holding fund should giving to DID?
      Solve this first.

      GEORGE TOWN: The Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) has been told to hand over funds collected from developers to the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) promptly, to facilitate the smooth implementation of flood mitigation and drainage projects.

      State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said MPSP has been directed to hand over the accumulated funds to the DID before the end of this year.

      He said MPSP had also been ordered to hand over the funds collected currently to the DID, every three months.

      “The state government, DID and MPSP accept the reprimand from the Auditor General on the weaknesses in handing over of the funds.

      “We have rectified the matter, and we want to stress that all monies collected are strictly used to implement flood mitigation and drainage projects and not for other purposes.

      “It is also not true that monies from the funds have been misappropriated,” he said today, responding to claims that failure by MPSP to hand over the funds to DID had stalled many flood mitigation projects in the Seberang Prai area.

      Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad had pointed out that in 2016 alone, four areas in Seberang Prai Tengah were hit by flash floods 21 times.

      MCA Youth treasurer Datuk Michael Lee had asked if the state government was so desperate for money that the much-needed funds to save lives and prevent hardship had to be withheld.

      PKR’s Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin had called on the Penang government to reveal the latest numbers from the funds collected from developers to build drains and flood mitigation projects in the state.

      The Auditor General’s Report 2016 Series 1 released recently revealed that MPSP had only used RM2.2 million of RM63.39 million collected from 2008 to June 2016.

      The report also said that MPSP was supposed to hand over all the funds yearly to the DID; however, it had only paid RM400,000 per year to the DID and had kept the rest with the reason that the MPSP needed to manage its cashflow.

      In Penang, all developers are required to contribute RM50,000 per acre to the local government for drainage and flood mitigation projects.

      Chow said he regretted the claims made by the opposition, and assured that the funds were used for its specified reasons.

      “For example, from 2008 until this year, we have approved RM176.9 million for flood mitigation projects although we only collected RM131.9 million.

      “This shows our seriousness in tackling flood problems in the state,” he said, adding that the state government had also approved a RM150 million allocation in the 2017 budget to implement nine high-impact mitigation projects.

      Chow also took a potshot at Norlela, saying that as a member in the flood mitigation committee, she was privy to such information.

  7. All CAT Aduns will have sleepless night tonight!
    YB Yeoh Soon Hin (ADUN Paya Terubong) is advised to camp out for a stake-out of Bukit Kukus botak hill slopes which look dangerously slippery & unstable. This is my bit of sharing my instinct of foreboding for this Botak-ed Bukit Kukus.

    • Several areas in Butterworth also hit by flood, despite no hill cutting.

      At least 17 houses in several villages including Kampung Permatang Rawa, Kampung Benggali, Kampung Simpah, Kampung Ooi Leng Hooi and Kampung Padang Lalang were flooded in knee-deep waters after levels rose between 100mm and 300mm.

      Taman Senangin, Taman Kepar, Taman Bagan, Taman Cantik and Kampung Ooi Leng Hooi were also struck with 300mm deep water, while three houses in Kampung Benggali, Butterworth were also affected by the floods.

      http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/04/floods-hit-lowlying-areas-in-penang-after-nonstop-rain/#D3vrLHyw0qQsP8Xe.99

      • More and more green spaces are being paved over in the mainland, more expensive high-rise condo coming up as well. Some of the new high-rise condos have hardly any gardens if at all, apart from roof-top pseudo gardens. Don’t forget road-widening too.

  8. Taman Lumba Kuda also flooded.
    Passed by the Jalan Air Itam + Taman Lumba Kuda junction @ 5.10pm, saw Rela guys blocking entry, many cars parking along the service road in front of Petron Station. A bit further down, the Sungai Air Hitam river water was almost breaking its river bank, the same opposite at Masjid Negeri. Less than 10ft before flooding the main road.
    Seeing the angry river flowing with such might & torrent, I would never want to jump in for a swim.
    Sungai Air Hitam should be renamed as Sungai Milo Susu Kau Kau!

    Went to Trengganu Road (section from smallest roundabout till Jalan Air Itam), but saw no flood!
    Selective flooding?

  9. Similar flash floods happen elsewhere in Malaysia too, much of it due to ‘development’, bad urban planning and bad maintenance of drainage and bad habits of people who throw rubbish into drains.

    The way I see it, whether it’s Pakatan, BN or some other party in running a state or the country, they all are the same … in different bottles.

    • It is a ‘new normal’.

      Ah Peks (our honorable senior citizens) can tell us that it never rain so hard for long duration in the past.

      • Global climate change may be partly responsible in the bigger picture but at the local level, massive development which has turned our cities and towns into concrete jungles coupled with the paving over of ground with asphalt is responsible too.

        I remember back in the 1960s where there was dew on the grass in the morning in the middle of Kuala Lumpur but tat has no longer been so for the past 30 years.

        I remember in the 1960s when mist would roll in but in the past 30 years it has been smoky haze.

        I remember in the 1960s when we sometimes had to pull on a blanket at night to ward of the cold but today, that is not necessary, unless one sleeps in an air conditioned bedroom.

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