Upon receiving the news that Klang was severely hit by floods, Tzu Chi Klang sent a relief team to the scene, distributing hot meals and calming the devastated victims.
Rain can be soothing and healing for the parched soil and weary soul but too much of it can become malignant, especially when one is helplessly stranded in a sea of murky water.
The low-lying areas of Taman Klang Utama are flood-prone. However, two consecutive days of heavy rainfall on December 17 last year, coupled with the high tide, inundated even areas that had never been flooded before. It was a day the residents witnessed the relentless force of nature, as they scrambled to escape the gushing waters.
As the rain continued to pour, the water level rose. Very quickly, Tzu Chi Klang set up a command centre in the area to gather updates on the situation while another team of volunteers busied themselves preparing hundreds of vegetarian lunch boxes at the Tzu Chi recycling centre.
Despite the rain, the distribution team pressed on, delivering meals on 4WD vehicles or on foot. Some vegetarian restaurants, too, joined the cause to provide free hot food.
◎ Safe havens
By evening, the Selangor state government had opened up shelters to accommodate about 5,000 flood victims. As most of the victims had frantically fled their homes without any belongings, there was an urgent need for necessities like blankets, towels and biscuits.
Tzu Chi volunteers saw the situation at a flood relief centre in Telok Gong, and worked late into the night to dispatch blankets, biscuits and towels to the victims, to address their immediate needs.
The next morning (December 19), volunteers brought bread, bottled water and clothing to another temporary shelter at SJK(T) Ladang Emerald, Shah Alam, where victims could collect the items.
Muniandy a/l Munisamy was among the many victims evacuated. He had spent the night on the roof of his house before he was sent to the shelter the next morning. Muniandy, a former beneficiary of Tzu Chi’s Food Care Project, saw the volunteers busy helping the victims, and he also stepped forward to help the volunteers with the relief work.
“Yesterday, the water level rose to the roof. We lifted the roof tiles and hid on the roof, clinging to an umbrella for shelter. It was dark. Drenched and freezing, we stayed up there all night. My neighbours and I kept calling for help this morning. My wife, a stroke patient, had the toughest fight. Because of her poor mobility, I was solely responsible for her. It was really dangerous on the roof …”
He breathed a sigh of relief when he finally arrived at the shelter. Although his clothes were still wet, he was more concerned about his wife who needed fresh diapers. The volunteers immediately sorted it out for him, and he smiled in gratitude.
Josephine Cristina, a primary school teacher at SJK(T) Sungai Renggam, and her 96-year-old paralysed mother were ferried to the relief centre via a 4WD vehicle. Josephine shared that as the water level in her neighbourhood continued to rise, residents were screaming desperately for help.
“We must face this disaster, and remain strong in this disaster,” she said. Due to the rushed evacuation, Josephine did not have the time to put on her shoes, and went barefooted to the centre. When volunteers visited the shelter again, they got her sandals, a gesture that moved her deeply.
Although these dislodged victims had to settle in a place perhaps less comfortable than home, the hot meals, blankets and support from the volunteers were a reassuring comfort to them, knowing that they were not alone in the storm.