Malaysia: Flash Floods - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA), DREF Operation MDRMY008

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

The Tropical Depression TWENTYNINE made landfall in Kemaman District (southern Terengganu State, north-eastern Peninsular Malaysia) in the late evening of 16 December 2021. As of 17 December at 0.00 UTC, its centre was about 40 km west of Kemaman, with maximum sustained winds of 46 km/h. It continued further west over central Peninsular Malaysia as a Tropical Depression, dissipating in an area north of Kuala Lumpur in the early morning of 18 December.

Most Peninsular Malaysia experienced moderate to heavy rain with thunderstorms on 17-18 December, causing severe flooding. According to the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, 316.5mm of rain fell in Klang last Saturday (18 December), compared to the average monthly national rainfall of 202mm.

Floodwaters and debris flows have rendered some bridges and roads impassable, impacting overland travel in and around affected areas. The Malaysia’s Agensi Pengurusan Bencana (NADMA) has reported that 33 districts in eight states across Peninsular Malaysia (Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang) are affected by floods (a map is available here). Around 70,000 people are directly impacted, with 67,629 persons (18,650 households) displaced in 470 evacuation centres. As of 23 December, 37 deaths have been reported, with some bodies still missing. Flooding in urban locations has resulted in severe traffic congestion, while heavy rain and low visibility have triggered flight disruptions at regional airports. Dozens of bus routes around the capital have been suspended along with train services to the port city of Klang, one of the worst-hit locations in Selangor. Road closures saw commuters trapped in their cars on jammed highways for as long as 12 hours or more, caused by people abandoning their vehicles and walking through stormwater. The massive traffic disruption in Klang Valley has also caused the separation of family members. Heads of households were stranded in the city while their families were trapped at home or successfully evacuated to relief centres. This flooding also significantly impacted people's livelihoods, hitting the state of Selangor and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur hard, where the population density is highest in the country, and prolonged flooding is not the norm. Unofficial estimates place the economic losses at around USD 200 million.

Dozens of roads and highways remain closed. There have been unscheduled water cuts and disruptions to the electricity supply. Search and rescue have been hampered by a lack of assets (boats and other vessels) to navigate through the waterways formed around high-density residential areas near low-lying flood basins, exacerbated by coordination issues between authorities. The situation is worsened in low-cost housing areas, where residents of single-storey linked houses do not have the option of moving themselves and their assets to the upper floors. There have been medical evacuations as the elderly and people with chronic diseases suffered from lack of food, running water, disrupted electricity supply and shortage of medication. Residents at Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam were reportedly driven to desperation as they were stranded by roof-level floodwaters without food for two days due to disorganized rescue efforts, with some resorting to breaking into nearby grocery stores.

On the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia, the Health Ministry warned of an imminent rise in COVID-19 cases following continuous heavy downpours that inundated several states nationwide after 181 positive cases were detected among the flood-affected on 20 December 2021. As of 20 December 2021, 2,721,544 confirmed cases had been recorded in Malaysia, with new daily cases of 2,589. There have been 31,135 recorded deaths.