Malaysia and Our Annual Flooding
Every year the monsoon season in Malaysia brings its victims. Here, Grija recounts the major flood she experienced in 2006.
Malaysia, Southeast Asia
Story by Grija Vijayan. Edited by Melaina Dyck
Published on June 20, 2022. Reading time: 5 minutes
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While some of you are gearing up to leave your country for a quick family vacation, some people are losing their homes and family in the usual annual floods over here in Malaysia. It’s sad and scary, but we are used to the flooding by now. We just hope that our friends and family will recover from the repercussions of this natural disaster as soon as possible.
I’m dedicating this story to all the flood victims who have lost everything and are still living life to the fullest. It’s definitely not easy to bounce back from a natural disaster and especially when it happens every single year. Every year, I am reminded of a horrific flood that I experienced in 2006.
I was back home on my semester break from university around December 2006. After being accepted into a local university, I was pretty excited to be home on a longer break. Usually, the breaks are only for a week or two, but at the end of the year we get a month off. I was so ready to be with my family and just enjoy the time I had with them, not knowing that my plan was about to take a turn.
Most floods in Malaysia are caused by the heavy rainfall brought by cyclical monsoon during the season at the end of year, usually occurring from November to January. Some flash floods are caused by poor drainage while other floods are due to the Gore Effect, which is unseasonably cold weather. Johor, the state where I am from, is not within the usual monsoon-affected zone but we definitely got hit pretty badly in the year 2006 due to the Gore Effect .
Mom woke me up early in the morning. I didn’t hear much but the sound of heavy pouring rain couldn’t be missed. I knew we couldn’t get hit by flood by any means because we lived on the upper side of the river and the river never flooded the high bank. Heavy rainfall would raise the water level but that was about it. I knew that if the upper bank did flood our whole town would disappear. I’d never seen the river explode until that year.
I saw couches, shoes, clothes and everything people owned floating right in front of my eyes.
Half-awake, I put on my slippers. The rain subsided a little. So, I walked outside of my house to the road with an umbrella to peek at the river and I saw everything floating. I was shocked. Beyond shocked, actually. I saw couches, shoes, clothes and everything people owned floating right in front of my eyes. Who would have thought that the flood would be considered the worst in the history of the southern region of Malaysia? I know for sure it is still the worst up until today because it was all over the internet and also on the news. We’ve never had that kind of flood since.
As bad as it was, we were grateful that we, at least, lived on the upper side of the river and we didn’t lose anything or anyone in the flood. But then we realized that we weren’t that lucky either. Our water and electricity were cut off for days. Talk about clean water: I was craving just hot showers. We couldn’t go anywhere because the main roads were flooded, and nobody could even get across to our towns.
Sixteen years later, I am still terrified of the 2006 flood, especially when it starts pouring during the monsoon season. Even when I was living in the US, I kept checking on the folks back home whenever the monsoon season started in Malaysia. I knew I couldn’t do anything to help ease the situation from far away, but it’s just that frequent heavy rain terrifies me up to today. Even though the annual flood was not as bad as the one back in 2006, we still got hit earlier this year too. Just like every other year.
The crazy Gore Effect has taken over me this time of the year too, not just the flood. Monsoon brings a lot of rain and also a lot of discomforts. I usually get sick with a cold and fever because the weather can get pretty crazy. Some days it’s on the 32°C / 90°F and it can drop down to 21°C / 70°F in just a matter of days. So, for those of you who are about to travel to Malaysia during the monsoon season, look out for the flood and also the crazy weather fluctuations that you cannot miss. Plan your travel accordingly and have fun visiting Malaysia.
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