Heavy rains in Penang and the nearby State of Kedah are disorganising life on the island North of Malaysia.
According to Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD), a low pressure activity with strong winds resulted in an extraordinary amount of continuous rainfall in Penang and parts of Kedah since Saturday. The storm lasted for 17 consecutive hours. In some areas of Penang, the MMD recorded between 10 to 50 times more rain than the average around 5.6mm rain. On Saturday, Butterworth recorded 233mm of rainfall, Bayan Lepas (where Penang International Airport is located) 174.5mm, Alor Star, the capital of Kedah 41.4mm and Chuping in Perlis 39.6mm.
The MMD issued a Yellow Alert for Heavy Rain Warning on Nov 1 involving Kelantan, Terengganu, Perak, Perlis, Kedah and Penang.
On Sunday, the Penang government has reached out to the armed forces for help, which the Deputy Prime Minister has agreed to send. Large parts of Georgetown is under water with water level in the streets reaching 3 to 3.5 meter while heavy winds were blowing. Flood waters were reported to have inundated major roads and disrupted electricity supply to key areas. On Saturday, many flights at Penang International Airport were delayed. The situation deteriorated further during the night due to a high tide in many areas.
Some 10,000 people were evacuated with more than 5,800 victims in Georgetown alone. Victims have been taken to 62 relief centres on the island. Some seven people died by drowning or due to falling houses or trees because of the heavy rain. Weather condition is only expected to improve on Tuesday.
According to hydraulics and hydrology expert from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Prof Dr Sobri Harun, the Penang government must conduct a review of its flood mitigation systems, especially for high-density urban areas as the city drainage system cannot cope with deluge from heavy rainfalls. He said the advent of climate change brought about uncertain weather patterns, and this should be an additional factor that must be taken into account whenever flood mitigation systems are put in place.
Some other experts call on the government to stop developing projects on Penang hill slopes as it further exarcerbates inundation in Penang lowlands. A road leading to a housing estate on a hill slope collapse on Sunday morning due to rainfall.