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Malaysia: Floods - DREF Operation n° MDRMY007 - Final Report

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Description of the disaster

Yan, Kedah was faced with a flash flood from the foothill of Mount Jerai (Gunung Jerai). On Wednesday, 18 August 2021, the flash flood happened at 5.30 pm (Local Malaysian Time). The heavy downpour caused water surges and landslides on Gunung Jerai that later hit Yan and Kuala Muda district in Kedah with muddy flash floods. The surrounding location of Gunung Jerai Resort was severely damaged. Difficulty in road access from the affected flash flood sites hampered the search and rescue of the casualties believed to have drowned and been swept away by the strong current. The flash floods have affected approximately 1,149 in the affected area of Yan district and 320 households in Kuala Muda district. The data collected is based on the district offices in Yan and Kuala Muda as of 1 September 2021. During the flash flood, 1469 people lodged police reports about their situation.

The Government opened two evacuation centres and hosted 43 people for short-term assistance. Out of 4,825 people affected by the flash flood, only 43 people went to the evacuation centre. People from the affected flash flood villages were hesitant to evacuate to the centres due to the fear of COVID-19 transmission. COVID-19 cases in the Yan district were considered high at the state level. For Yan district, 395 positive COVID-19 cases were reported, and in Kuala Muda district, figures reached 6,285 cases. Flash floods carrying sediment and large tree trunks impacted nearby houses in Kampung Permatang Keramat. Most of the houses in this village are two km from the primary impact area of the foothill of Gunung Jerai. The affected houses were covered in mud, some with minor damage.

Villages affected by the flash flood were covered with mud and sand on the houses from 18 August 2021. The Yan district was the most affected location of the three affected locations. Heavy rains poured a massive volume of water down a stream from Gunung Jerai, sweeping tree trunks and rocks. The ensuing floods destroyed local village livestock and vegetable farms. Local authorities have confirmed six deaths.

In the Kuala Muda district, most areas were covered with muddy water, tree trunks, and large rocks from the side of the river. Despite mud covering houses, flood victims did not report heavy damage. People did, however, report damage to several home appliances and furniture. The walls of a few residences were damaged, smashed by rocks from the nearby river. Most of the houses were built with concrete structures and wood materials. In the two districts of Yan and Kuala Muda, flash floods destroyed farmland and plantations. Livestock loss such as chickens, goats, and cows was also reported, which was critical livelihood or safety net assets for the affected. Some farmers reportedly lost harvests due to the flood, which was significant as the rice harvest was due later in the month.

During the flash flood, Kedah State experienced the third wave of COVID-19, and it reached 1,538 new cases every day. Kedah state was the seventh-highest state with COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, reporting 89,027 cases as of 26 August 2021. Kedah state was fell under the category of phase 1, where daily cases were still high during the flash flood.