UNPRECEDENTED: Torrential rains cause 1,000 to be evacuated from homes
BUKIT MERTAJAM: SATURDAY'S non-stop rain spelt disaster for most low-lying areas here, causing more than 1,000 people to evacuate after flash floods inundated their homes.
It is believed the flash floods are the worst experienced here in two decades, following heavy rains from 5pm to the early hours.
The worst affected places were Permatang Rawa, Kampung Tok Suboh, Kampung Telok, Mengkuang Semarak and Padang Lalang.
People were seen moving their belongings to rooftops while others were in boats.
As of 2pm yesterday, more than 500 people from 100 families were evacuated and placed in five temporary relief centres in the district.
Flash flood victims from the Central Seberang Prai district were housed at centres in Permatang Tok Suboh, Mengkuang Semarak, Padang Lalang mosque, Lubok Banting hall, and the Village and Security Development Committee hall in Cherok Tok Kun.
There were more than 400 people who were still staying put in their respective homes.
Over 50 rescue personnel from the police, Civil Defence, Fire and Rescue Department were despatched with boats to help with rescue efforts.
Other parts of Seberang Prai had experienced a similar fate, such as Tasek Gelugor, Nibong Tebal and Kulim.
Matters were made worse with several rivers reaching critical levels with floodwaters bursting the banks and subsequently submerging villages next to them.
One of the swollen rivers was Sungai Jarak, whose water level reached 4.2m at about 12.30pm yesterday, flooding Lahar Yooi town and its surrounding areas.
Sungai Jarak's two other tributaries, Sungai Kreh and Sungai Kulim, experienced high tide, causing a heavy outflow of water at its confluences.
Other rivers, such as Sungai Kulim, Sungai Junjong, Sungai Muda (Bumbung Lima section) and Sungai Tembus, were reported to have hit critical levels as well.
Penang Welfare Department director Zulkifli Ismail said basic necessities were supplied to the centres, while more help was needed for some who were not planning to move.
"There are some families that refused to move out. So we are giving out food rations and other necessary items to them."
Penang Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said welfare officers had been on guard since Saturday night in anticipation of the floods.