KOTA BARU, 3 Dec : Is Kelantan ready for the next "Bah Merah" (The Red Flood)? This month marks the anniversary of the great deluge which, if according to the State flood chronicles strikes every 40 years since 1926.
The second surged in 1967 and it saw about 537,000 or 84 per cent of the State population badly affected. Some 125,000 were evacuated while 38 people drowned. And equally worrying was the prediction by Meteorological Department officials, of another big flood to affect the east coast States Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang by year end. However, it is not known whether the magnitude will be anywhere near the Red Flood or the one in 2004, where 12 people were killed and more than 11,000 displaced. The latter cost more than RM10 million in damage to property, livestock and crops. The Federal Government also had to fork out more than RM2 million in disaster relief funds for affected families. Preparation is the key to surviving the year-end deluge, since floods are a fact of life for Kelantan. Nevertheless, are the locals wary of these latest predictions of impending disasters? Trishaw rider Mohammed Husin, 74, who lives on a rickety wooden boathouse by the Kelantan River for more than 50 years, is a survivor of the second Red Flood and the floods in 2004. The ongoing sunny weather during this monsoon season probably did not give him reason to seek shelter on higher ground. "For me, there is nothing to worry about. My house was not affected by the floods. "Thanks to several retention ropes I tied to the nearby riverbank, river currents could not pull my house away," he said. The authorities, however, are not taking the current weather for granted and have been bracing for the start of the monsoon season last month. Kelantan Drainage and Irrigation Department director Lim Chow Hock said 540 millimetres of rain is expected to fall in the coming weeks, and it only takes three days of downpours to flood Kelantan. "Geographically, Kelantan is prone to floods due to the State's low- lying areas in Kuala Krai, Machang, Pasir Mas and Kota Baru, which alone holds 80 per cent of water catchment areas in the State," he said. //NST