December 28, 2014 -Officials in Malaysia’s northeastern state of Kelantan has declared a special holiday, as tens of thousands of residents struggle to cope with persistent flood waters.
Thousands of businesses have been closed, turning the state capital of Kota Bharu into a ghost town crippled by days of restricted access to food, water and electricity.
“I’m worried. There’ll be no food if the stores continue to stay closed. Even the markets are closed,” said Kota Bharu resident Rukiah Said. Francis Tok, a hotel supervisor, added: “It’s tough, housekeeping wants to clean rooms, bathrooms but they can’t. There is no water.”
With bodies of water every few kilometres, residents were forced to use pick-up trucks and four-wheel drives to brave the floodwaters.
These flooded roads have forced taxi driver Mahmud Hassan to trade his cab for a small stall selling cups of soft drinks. “I can’t enter the city (with my cab) … I have to sell these drinks to make a living,” he said.
Even rescue personnel have been struggling. They have had to drive out from their bases in search of petrol. “All the Petronas stations in our area has no more petrol,” said Mohd Sapawi Awang, a firefighter. “In Kota Bharu, there are about two or three Petronas stations where we can still pump petrol.”
Floodwaters have started to recede in parts of Kota Bharu, which has brought hope to the residents here. But they are cautiously optimistic, knowing only too well how unpredictable these murky waters can be.