BUKIT MERTAJAM: For food operator S. Gayathri, dealing with flash floods has been a regular part of her life over the past nine years.

But yesterday was the first time she and her family had to be evacuated to a temporary relief centre at SJK(C) True Light in Juru here.

Her single-storey house in Taman Mangga was partly submerged after several hours of continuous rain.“We are used to dealing with floods, their aftermath and the clean-up, but staying at a temporary shelter is a first,” she said when met yesterday.

Gayathri, 32, said she was preparing dishes at her eatery when she noticed floodwaters rising rapidly.

The first thing that came to mind was the safety of her two sons, aged three and eight, at home. She quickly drove home only to find that the floodwaters had already reached knee level.

Luckily, her two sons were safe.

“The mattress on the floor was already soaked. Electrical appliances like the refrigerator and washing machine were partly submerged.

“I only had time to retrieve important documents and some clothes in a bag before rushing out of the house to get help,” she said.

Gayathri was among 87 people from 27 families who had to be put up at the relief centre.

Another relocation centre was opened in Bukit Teh to house 22 people from seven families.

The two-hour downpour, which began at about 5pm on Friday, left many neighbourhoods in Bukit Tengah, Alma, Machang Bubok, Kota Permai and Juru flooded.

Taman Sentul Residents Association chairman Mohamed Yusoff Ibrahim, 60, said flooding issues have persisted for the past 33 years.

He said there were 131 houses in the neighbourhood, most of which were flooded.

“This is among the earliest neighbourhoods to be developed in Juru. We still experience three or four major floods every year.

‘’We hope the elected MP will do something to resolve this issue after the 15th General Election,” he said.

Incumbent Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said several flood hotspots in the area had recorded three times the usual amount of rainfall.

“While 60mm of rainfall would have been classified as very heavy, the flooded areas recorded 181mm of rainfall.

“Two water pumps were not operating during the floods due to electrical supply issues,” he said.

“During the heavy rain between 5pm and 7pm, there was a power trip at the pump near Juru Auto City and it was rectified only at 10pm.

“The new pump in Permai Jaya experienced cabling issues and only started operating after it was fixed.”

Sim said besides distributing 1,320 food packs to victims, all election campaigning there was cancelled.He said all of Pakatan Harapan’s election machinery booths had since been turned into flood relief centres equipped with water boots, safety vests and food to enable aid to be channelled quickly.

“The Seberang Prai City Council (MBSP), state Irrigation and Drainage Department and Village Community Management Councils have been ordered to conduct three audits in Bukit Mertajam on drainage systems and pumps to ensure flood management systems operate properly,” he added.

Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin said villagers in Mengkuang Titi believe clearing on Suling Hill is among the factors contributing to the floods.

“There are 92 orchards up the hill and most of them are for durians.

“Heavy machinery was used to clear the land and this has disrupted the natural drainage there.

“I’ve proposed that MBSP create two retention ponds at the foot of the hill,” she said.

Bukit Mertajam MCA Youth chief Tan Yang Pang and his team also went out to help flood victims.

He said murky water was a sign of over-development, adding: “Proper town planning is needed to ensure sustainable development.”