Sarawak floods: State all set for ‘Gear 3’ level of preparedness, assures minister

KUCHING, Dec 30 ― The Ministry of Women, Early Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Sarawak is now pushing for “Gear 3” level of preparedness, following the forecast by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) of significant rain hitting the state next week.

According to the minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, her team especially the Welfare Department (JKM) is now in “Gear 2”.

“Now we are in Gear 2, so we are pushing it for the next level of preparedness, which is ‘Gear 3’.

“What I mean by Gear 3 is that it refers to our side (ministry) as the committee dealing with disasters from the community and village levels, up to the district, division and state levels.

“The supply of food, transportation, amenities for the PPS (temporary evacuation centres), and other preparations for the eventuality of floods ― these are being arranged right now.

“Gear 3 means everything is ready to go for distribution and setting-up once the need arises,” she told reporters after attending the briefing on the level of preparedness in facing the monsoon season, at the community hall of Kampung Sungai Lumut in Santubong, here today.

Asked about the number of PPS identified in Sarawak, the minister said there were 627 centres all over the state, able to accommodate 162,000 evacuees.

“Every PPS must be clean and safe with all its amenities in good working condition, especially the toilets and bathrooms, which are the most complained-about subjects raised by many past evacuees. As such, it is important for the village or neighbourhood committees to inform us, so that our team can make the required arrangements.

“The PPS must be child-friendly, so we arrange for it to have an activities corner for the children.

“It must also have a registration counter, meant to identify all those who need to be evacuated. At times, there are those who are unable to evacuate by themselves such as the senior citizens and individuals with special needs; that’s why registration is important, to ensure that all evacuees are accounted for,” she pointed out.

Fatimah also said each PPS would have a health-check section, in view of past cases where many elderly evacuees were struck down by medical issues such as hypertension.

“There were also incidents of evacuees giving birth at the PPS. So we are ready with such eventuality, and we are working with the Health Department in this regard.”

Fatimah also said in facilitating the delivery of supplies to the PPS, JKM Sarawak had set up 29 frontline bases all over Sarawak.

“We have a massive depot in Kuching, stocked with all the necessary amenities including food, mattresses, hygiene kits and also wheelchairs.

“Insya Allah (God-willing), we would want to have more depots soon, maybe one for the central region and another for northern region.

“We have also received contributions from Petronas, Nadma (National Disaster Management Agency) and the federal JKM.

“We always welcome the contributions from NGOs (non-governmental organisations), corporate bodies and individuals, but we appeal for them to go through us for more coordinated arrangements,” she said.

Fatimah pointed out that the frontline bases meant not only to channel the supplies to the PPS, but also to the rural areas cut off by floods.

“Some areas in Sarawak are very far from the nearest towns and only reachable by boats.

“Due to these challenges, the people of these remote villages may not evacuate, but their access to supplies is cut off.

“Immediacy is priority, and this is why we have these frontline bases ready. We want to make sure that food and other essential supplies can reach the people,” she added.

Earlier, MetMalaysia Sarawak director Khairul Najib Ibrahim, who also attended the briefing, said the forecast of significant rainfall over the western region of Sarawak, namely Kuching, Serian and Samarahan, in early January would likely to be above the monthly average reading of 680mm.

“It could be somewhere between 810mm and 950mm. As such, the risk of floods occurring is high.

“This weather condition (for western region) is predicted to persist until February, before moving over to the northern region such as Bintulu, Miri, and Limbang.

“Also to be taken into account is the daily weather variations, but the forecast maintains that it would begin in the western region of Sarawak.”

Explaining the definition of significant rain, Khairul Najib described it as ‘one that brings in big impact on daily activities, such as the massive floods that hit Kelantan’.

In this regard, he called upon the public to always be alert on the current situation, and to always obtain information from legitimate sources.

“Make sure that you have verified information. Do not believe and spread anything posted on social media without verifying it first,” he added.

For information about weather forecast, one can access, or call the MetMalaysia hotline 1-300-22-1638. ― Borneo Post



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