GEORGE TOWN: In the aftermath of yesterday's flash floods, thousands of flood victims began the arduous task of cleaning up the huge mess left behind.
Checks by the New Straits Times at Kampung Batu Gantung, Jalan P. Ramlee and Farlim, among others, showed that flood victims spent Malaysia Day giving their houses a good scrub while throwing away personal belongings damaged in the flood.
Many also lamented on the major losses they suffered.
Among them were Manja Sulaiman, 46, and Erni Ishak, 35, from Kampung Batu Gantung here.
The flash flood at their almost century-old village, sandwiched between modern day developments, was the worst in a decade, since 2007.
The floodwaters rose up to chest-level and help only came much later when rescuers realised there was a village inside.
When the NST arrived this morning, Manja, Erni and their neighbours were busy washing their empty wooden houses.
"Almost everything is damaged. We did not manage to salvage anything. Our fridge, washing machine, beds, furniture, you name it, everything is gone.
"This is by far the worst flood in the past 10 years," Manja said.
The ticketing staff said the neighbourhood was a flood-prone area and has been hit by flash floods quite frequently.
"Usually, we will place our things higher up, above waist-level as the floodwaters would be from waist-down, but not yesterday's.
"At 6.30am, it had begun flooding and by 8am, we were all swimming inside the muddy and murky waters," she added, noting that the floodwaters only subsided fully at about 5pm.
Erni's two-year-old daughter was carried by rescuers to a nearby coffeeshop for shelter as no temporary flood relief centre was opened nearby.
"I had Manja's children taking care of my girl while we were taking care of our houses.
"We have lived through many, many floods and we hope that the state government can offer us a unit in a high-rise," she pleaded, stressing that she suffered too many major losses.
Manja said they were told that the release of water from the Air Itam dam further aggravated the situation.
"In the 2007 flood, we found out later that the dam broke due to the high water volume. At that time, we were ferried out by boats to safety," she said.
Meanwhile, Loh Jet Siong from Farlim also lamented that yesterday's flood was the worst, causing everything in his house to be damaged.
Lim Wei Pin, also from Farlim, hoped the state government would re-look into the existing drainage system in the neighbourhood.
Over at Jalan P. Ramlee, Abdul Halim Che Daud, 46, lamented that two flash floods within three months caused him to suffer huge losses.
The private company employee said most of his furniture and electrical items were all spoilt.
"To compound matters, there is also no initial assistance from the state government to clean our houses.
"I had to rent my own lorry to throw out the big and bulky furniture and electrical appliances, all of which can no longer be used. Before this, my car was badly damaged and not my house," he said.
State Culture and Arts Deparment director Mohd Rizal Ismail said yesterday's flash floods was the worst, resulting in several theatre plays to be postponed.
"We are lucky that the floodwaters only inundated the auditorium and not the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee's house," he added.
Yesterday, tens of thousands of Penang folk woke up to massive flash floods triggered by an overnight downpour that crippled many parts of the state.
Houses in more than 100 locations were flooded, some in chest-high floodwaters, while traffic in almost all major roads was at a standstill.