A downpour that lasted for over two hours on the morning of June 13, 2019 had caused the water level of the Kampung Kibambangan River to rise rapidly and consequently triggered a flash flood. Tzu Chi volunteers were despatched to assess the damage and deliver aid and care to those affected.
Kampung Kibambangan, a village located in the Penampang District and 21 km away from Kota Kinabalu, is a recreational spot rich in nature and greenery. On the morning of June 13, 2019, a flash flood occurred after more than two hours of downpour, carrying felled trees and mud from the hilltop down the hill. The floodwaters also surged into the houses and flushed some household items out of the houses. There were also landslides at various locations, as well as power and water interruptions. The connecting road to the city was damaged, leaving a huge and deep pothole, a result of sinking ground. According to the local residents, the flood, which affected about 350 villagers, was the worst on record.
Determined to deliver aid and care
After receiving the news on the evening of June 13, volunteer Han Nyuk Jin visited the flood-hit area the following morning along with four volunteers. They were blocked by the huge pothole after a 5-minute drive into the village, and had to walk to the flood-hit area.
They discovered that two houses were seriously damaged by the flood. Besides losing some important documents, the residents also found some damaged furniture and their clothes, household items and mattresses were covered by mud. Fortunately, there were no casualties reported.
After understanding the victims’ needs, the volunteers immediately went to the recycling centre to get some changing clothes for the victims, and made preparation for a relief distribution.
Reciprocating the kindness received
On the morning of June 15, volunteers arrived at Kampung Kibambangan and walked towards the flood-hit area carrying the relief supplies as the access was still cut off by the pothole. Volunteers also had to cross the river on foot and climbed up a slippery slope to get to the two affected houses near the river bank because the bridge and river were blocked by driftwoods and branches brought down by floodwaters.
When volunteer, Minasari Setiawan read aloud a letter from Master Cheng Yen to convey her care and blessings to the flood victims, Munikah Ginsos could not help but turn teary. Her helplessness as a result of the unexpected flood was eased after listening to the messages from the Master. Minasari also shared with the flood victims the story of Tzu Chi’s Bamboo Bank Era. Moved by the story of kindness, Edward Kubot and Nicholas Alam @ William donated part of their relief cash they received to spread love around.
Edward and his wife, Munikah, have four children. When the flood hit, Munikah was away at work while Edward and his sons were attending a school event, hence were safe from the flood. However, their kittens that were kept in a cage had drowned. Munikah was sad recalling the ill-fated kittens, and volunteers were quick to offer their words of comfort. Munikah is reluctant to live in the same place post-flood, as she felt that it was a warning of a more serious flood that might hit in the future.
Nicholas, who works at Kinabatangan Health Office in Sandakan remarked, “This is the worst flood in history.” His wife, Nola Tungup Bagangon, is a nurse working in Kota Kinabalu. When the flood happened, Nicholas was at work and their 2-year-old child was at home with a domestic helper.
When Nola received the news that her house was flooded and the water level had reached about five feet high, she immediately rang the fire station, and sought help from her brother-in-law, Sailor, to take her kid and helper to a safe place. However, as the water current was too strong when Sailor reached the area, he had to wait across the river bank for about three hours for the rain to stop. Despite the challenge in crossing the bridge, he managed to bring both the kid and domestic helper to safety.
According to the domestic helper, the family’s dog, Leo, was the first to sense the disaster coming. She and the kid were taking their naps, but suddenly, she heard Leo barking fiercely while scratching the door with its paws. When she opened the door, Leo rushed to the upper floor. Sensing that something was not right, she immediately carried the kid and ran upstairs. In no time, the floodwaters had surged into the house and she could only watch helplessly as the household items were carried away by the floodwaters.
Speaking of the incident, Nicholas was thankful that Leo had saved his kid’s and domestic helper’s lives. He also felt fortunate that the flood happened during daytime, as luck might not be on their side should that happen at night. He also expressed his gratitude to Tzu Chi volunteers for their quick response in extending aid to those affected. He hopes that he could one day, become a volunteer too.
Besides delivering relief supplies and cash aid, volunteers also followed up on the situations faced by the victims and continued to accompany them through the tough times with empathy. Edward said, “The first thing we need to do now is to clean up the mess. The relief cash means a lot to me, and the volunteers’ presence helped restore our confidence in rebuilding our homes.” On the other hand, Nyuk Chin said that although they needed to walk for some distance to reach the victims’ homes, they were relieved and pleased upon seeing the victims receiving the aid they needed.