WHEN it rains it positively pours as we are inundated by a deluge of water at our doorstep as 2014 comes to a close. Wasn’t it was only a few months ago in the middle of the year when residents of the Klang Valley faced water shortage?
The general mood elsewhere around the country then was shared – everyone could emphathise as the whole nation was told to brace itself for a prolonged dry spell. This was all down to some quirk of the weather pattern.
Environmentalists quickly blamed man’s own brazen disregard and failure to live within our means as we merrily clear forests, chop down trees, levelled hills, belch out toxic fumes and expel obnoxious gasses.
(Following the mud flood in Cameron Highlands on Nov 5, a total of 203 people from 47 families in Kampung Baru and Bertam Valley had to be evacuated - BERNAMApic)
Events of the past few days show how badly we needed an all-seeing; all-knowing Oracle. Far from a dry spell, we got rain – lots of it!
While the usual year-end wet weather was expected, we did not exactly think it was going to be THIS wet!. POINTERS TO WET WEATHER
But we did get a hint which we ignored to our cost.
The wrath of nature reared its monstrous head when Cameron Highands suffered heavy rains causing the Bertam River to burst its banks weeks before December. The raging flow of water swept all before it, inundating the quaint holiday town and causing plenty of material damage – and claiming lives as well.
Cameron Highlands was opened out by the British colonialists – together with Frazier’s Hills. Legendary tea planters J A Russel and A B Milne carved out the slopes into terraces on which tea bushes thrived.
Thanks to the legacy left by the much-maligned orang puteh’ responsible for a huge swathe of our history; we have a holiday destination offering cool respite from the hot and humid din of the city. Here was an escape valve from the stifling heat and sweaty humidity of the lowlands.
Its location on a ridge of the main central spine of the peninsular endowed it with a pleasantly balmy temperatures in the mid 20 Celcius. It gave the colonials a respite from the energy-sapping sweaty swirl of the equatorial sun. But others, with less of the British affinity for an invigorating cuppa chose to grow vegetables and flowers instead.
Intensive farming and the prodigious use of fertiliser gave Camerons a reputation for its bumper harvests of cabbages, tomatoes, corn and roses; among others.
Somehow, more and more land were brought under cultivation and just about every inch of available land was cleared to make way for flower beds or vegetable plots. The rows of green leafy lettuces look so ordered and healthy that it gave the impression that everything was fine. REAPING THE HARVEST OF A LAND RAPED
Nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the neat rows and healthy foliage hides the stark reality of how Camerons was – wait for it...RAPED!
With no respect for topographic stability; geographic integrity or contour heirarchy, the jungle was cleared; natural cover was stripped and hillside carved. Now when we show no respect for the natural lie of the land, it will be a matter of when and not if; before nature sneaks up and bites us when we least expect it.
Bite it did, when the Sungai Bertam burst its banks causing widespread devastation and untold havoc on hill station Cameron Highlands.
Just as order was restored, the watery deluge came with a sequel as the East Coast became swamped with seemingly unceasing rainfall.
Our state of preparedness – or the lack of it – became an issue as unfortunately, just about anyone with executive power were already well-ensconced with or in the midst of their well-deserved year-end break.
But tell them to the dozens of flood victims who had to rush to the hills, leaving behind their rickety homes with nothing more than what they could carry with them in the mad dash for safety.
Their stories emerged as the maintained telephone contact with their kin in other parts of the country begging for food and water – until the batteries ran out!
The media became the target for derision when some concentrated their reports on silly stories’ – following religiously the movement of big-wigs peering out of helicopter windows as if conducting hi-by flybys’.
Now, more than a week when the deluge started, things have somewhat settled – thought the flooding does not seem to be subsiding quickly enough. Indeed the situation is so fluid that some areas are continuing to bear the brunt of unceasing rains – with more to come!
And then, just as we thought it could not get worse, a passenger plane in flight with all its crew and passengers dissapeared above the Java Sea. Oh no...not again!
Its is well past noon; Dec 30 at the point of writing this article. There’s less than 48 hours left of 2014.
I can’t wait to say adieu!