An open letter to the Flood

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Flood relief in Kelantan, December 2014: The poor bear the brunt of devastating floods caused by the wanton destruction of watershed areas due to state-sanctioned logging, poor planning and weak control of development. - Photograph: Hasnoor Hussain/Malaysian Insider

Adrian Lee hopes that the Flood will not overstay your welcome again this year. Of coures, the devastation it causes is never our fault, he says with tongue in cheek.

Dear Flood,

Time seems to have flown – for you are here, again. Your annual visit seems to catch us Malaysians by surprise during the monsoon season. As you open your gates, the nation descends into chaos and disorder.

Recently, your partner in crime, the Haze paid us a visit and blocked our skies with pollutants and poisons, causing much misery and gloom. But the Haze then decided to make a hasty and silent exit, and we have the monsoon season to thank for that.

The monsoon season helped clear the skies but brought along storm clouds. Well, every cloud has its silver lining: the wind and rain blew and washed the Haze away.

Air quality improved, and the atmosphere became cooler. While we no longer choke on smog, the air remained polluted from vehicle emissions and industrial discharge. You should see how dark the exhaust smoke discharged by some trucks can.

Well, the rain we were hoping and praying so hard for has finally arrived. But the Big Guy upstairs, often so generous with Malaysia, again provided us with more than we had asked for.

So it rained continually for days. At times, it was quite scary as I recall what happened when somone accompanied Noah for 40 days. I also recall the devastation you caused in China in 1931 and with Katrina in 2005. And also when you visited Asia in 2004 and Japan in 2015 with your other partner in crime, the Tsunami.

While we do not have the Ark to keep us afloat, we now have vehicles to mercifully transport us to safe places. But at times, your water levels become so high that many are forced to evacuate their homes and head for higher grounds.

When you come in the form of a flash flood, you cause havoc. Traffic comes to a standstill and vehicles are submerged in you. Hopefully, their insurance coverage has a premium for you. See how significant you are in Malaysia?

Your arrival brings diseases such as typhoid, leptospirosis and melioidosis caused by contaminated water and bacteria. By overstaying your welcome you often leave us with a hefty housekeeping bill.

This is because many lose their homes, vehicles, businesses and lives as your currents grow stronger and water levels rise. Landslides and mudslides block roads resulting in massive traffic jams.

So we blame you, Flood, for the devastation to our economy, the loss and havoc in our lives, and the damage to the infrastructure and the environment.

We blame you, Flood, for forcing many to evacuate.

And we blame you, Flood, for the contamination that leaves behind disease, filth and grime.

We certainly hope that you do not return next year for it is unsure if our multimillion ringgit flood mitigation projects, Smart tunnels, widened drains and rivers, and emergency response teams are capable of keeping up with you – for you appear to return with a greater vengeance every year.

While we welcome the rain that washes away the Haze, we will try to make your next visit most pleasant by continually clogging our drains and rivers with rubbish and industrial waste.

After all, the drains and rivers are the most convenient ways to dispose of rubbish and waste as everything just disappears out of sight. Do not worry, the rain water will somehow find a way to burst the riverbanks and flow out from the clogged drains.

Do not worry about the trees in the forests and on hill-slopes that have been preventing sediment overflow while its roots solidly grip and hold on the soil. Rest assured that massive deforestation will continue, and trees on hill slopes will be chopped down en masse. Well, all these need to be done in the name of development, not greed, I assure you.

Of course, when all else fails, we will blame you for these catastrophes. We also could blame Mother Nature – or maybe we will blame El Nino or La Nina for causing our climate to become erratic and unpredictable.

We cannot blame ourselves for we humans are faultless and blameless. It is also impossible that deforestation and pollution can cause weather changes. We are thus at the mercy of Mother Nature as such calamities are acts carried out at the behest of the Almighty and never caused by us humans.

That said, I sincerely hope that you do not overstay your welcome again this year. Yes, we do get to watch news reports about children swimming in you, victims ferried around in a boat or on rooftops waiting for help.

But if you really do wish to pay us a visit again, I sincerely hope that you will instead visit our various dams, reservoirs and water catchment areas. These are locations that you have mysteriously and bafflingly not visited for these are places that would grant you permanent residency.

If you do not, more forests would be senselessly cut down to build more dams, reservoirs and water catchment areas. All this, of course, would be done in the name of development and, again I assure you, not greed.

So I thank you for your time and wish you a safe and hasty departure.

Yours truly,

A concerned Malaysian

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