349 flood-risk locations throughout Sarawak

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KUCHING: The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) has identified 349 flood-risk locations throughout Sarawak.

State Fire and Rescue Department director Khiruddin Drahman speaking to the media at a press conference on the preparation in facing the northeast monsoon at Fire and Rescue Department headquarters in Tabuan Jaya, Kuching. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

Sarawak Bomba director Khirudin Drahman said the monsoon season, which is expected to begin early December and end early next February, would bring rain to the southern and northern parts of Sarawak.

“In a recent meeting with the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas instructed local authorities to clean up and deepen the drains in flood-risk locations.

“They would also have to make sure that rubbish does not cause blockage of waterways,” Khirudin told the media on Friday (Oct 1).

Breaking down the locations into zones, he said 54 locations were in Zone 1 (Kuching, Bau and Lundu); 61 in Zone 2 (Kota Samarahan, Siburan, Serian, Simunjan and Asajaya); 23 in Zone 3 (Sri Aman, Betong and Saratok); 90 in Zone 4 (Sibu, Sungai Merah, Sarikei, Bintangor, Kanowit, Mukah, Kapit, Song, Daro, Selangau and Sibu Jaya); 13 in Zone 5 (Bintulu, Samalaju and Tatau); 78 in Zone 6 (Miri, Lopeng, Batu Niah and Marudi); and 30 in Zone 7 (Limbang).

Bomba also identified locations where landslides could occur and road access cut off during the monsoon season.

“There are 97 such road (at risk of cut-off) locations in all seven zones, with Sibu and Sri Aman zones topping the list with 42 and 16 locations respectively.

“Therefore, I ask the respective Division Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) and the police’s assistance to immediately report any road cut-off incidents, so that fences can be put up.

“We will also beef up early morning patrols at these locations because there will be vehicles travelling in the morning and we want to ensure that these locations will not be the cause of vehicles falling into cut-off roads.”

An officer from the K9 unit with his dog at a demonstration of rescuing victims and getting ready for the rescue operation during the northeast monsoon. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

On landslide locations, Khirudin said there were 77 identified spots with Sibu (32) and Sri Aman (19) prone to landslides as a lot of the roads are around hills, adding that Bomba had conducted 114 flood monitoring patrols around the state last month.

Bomba also identified 38 landing points for its helicopters to carry out search and rescue  operations, and other relief operations.

On personnel and logistics, Khirudin said its manpower included 1,398 officers and 22,175 auxiliary firefighters.

Bomba has 16 lorries, 67 four-by-four vehicles, 37 rescue boats, a helicopter, 18 emergency medical rescue services unit, and regional forward bases in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

“We are also collaborating with Radio Emergency Drone Sarawak so that blackspot areas (no telecommunication network) are covered and they can channel information to the operations centre.”

When asked how the evacuation process would be like if an enhanced movement control order area is flooded, Khirudin explained that there were four standard operating procedures to follow – two from the National Security Council and two from Bomba.

On the temporary evacuation centres, the Community Welfare Department and DDMC would ensure that physical distancing rule is fully complied with, face masks are prepared, and personal hygiene practiced by everyone.

“Take for example the floods early this year in Lundu and Bau, all the evacuees followed SOP guidelines.

“During evacuation, physical distancing was impossible because our rescue boats are not big.

“However, we will always remind them to wear face masks, keep their hands close to themselves and always wash their hands if they touch anything.”

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