Fatimah fields questions from reporters after presenting grants to NGOs at PDK Sri Satok, Kuching. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: The Social Welfare Department is fully prepared to help flood victims during the current northeast monsoon while adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) at evacuation centres in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said preparations have been made to distribute food and relocate victims to designated evacuation centres.

“We have identified 584 evacuation centres throughout Sarawak. They can accommodate up to 182,325 people,” she said.

Fatimah revealed this to reporters after handing over the ministry’s grants to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Kuching at the Sri Satok PDK today.

“There are 13 forward bases throughout Sarawak – in Kuching, Kapit, Bintulu and Miri. They will distribute food to victims who are not evacuated,” she said.

She said the food for the forward bases cost about RM195,000.

“At the same time, the ministry also has a designated store at Jalan Dato Mohd Musa in Samarahan for emergency items such as mattresses, pillows, blankets, diapers, water bottles, hygiene kits and clothes (sarong). The overall cost is RM400,000,” she said.

On the SOPs at the evacuation centres, Fatimah said everyone must wear face masks and practise proper personal hygiene. The evacuation centres would be sanitised.

“The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has decided that no cooking will be allowed at the centres. However, we will prepare cooked food for them. Other essential items including dry food will be provided,” she said.

Fatimah added the ministry would also be assisted by 548 welfare volunteers.

“These volunteers are those that are already in our record. They help during floods and also on normal days providing assistance to people with disabilities (OKU) who live alone,” she said.