Increasing public awareness in facing disasters such as floods should be a priority in improving the country’s disaster management.
National Security Council (MKN) director-general, Datuk Rodzi Md Saad said based on observations after the week of floods that hit the country, it would be timely for the people’s resilience or ‘community resilience’ to be strengthened.
“In confronting the challenges brought by a disaster, we cannot rely on the government alone. It’s time we mobilise the people and this should be made a national agenda. Like COVID-19, the community’s attitude in practising the new norms is of paramount importance because if there is no awareness, certainly the fight against COVID-19 will be affected.
“In the context of floods, if every household head knows what actions must be taken when the water rises by one foot, two feet or three feet, the guidelines or SOPs to protect the family should at least already be in place, whether to move out and so on,” he said when featured as a guest speaker on the Bernama TV ‘Malaysia Petang Ini’ programme, broadcast today.
Rodzi said improving disaster management would also be one of NSC’s priorities as a member of the post-flood special task force formed by the government, with a new framework and strategies in boosting disaster management to be formulated so that the same mistakes would not be repeated.
“There are definitely lessons learned from the floods this time. We want to add value to the cooperation among all the government agencies involved and are confident that a more effective discussion or disaster management formula will be drawn up in the future,” he said.
Several states were hit by floods following heavy rains on Dec 18, causing several areas in Selangor and Pahang to be severely deluged, with property and hundreds of vehicles destroyed in the calamity which claimed 48 lives with five others still missing.
Meanwhile, Rodzi said the families affected by the floods needed a week to a month to restore their lives to normalcy.
“The mud left behind is very thick, (so) if families are left to themselves to clean up the mess, they may soon get disheartened and wallow in despair. To revive their spirit, we as Malaysians need to help, otherwise the flood victims will take long to restore their lives,” he added.
On the infrastructure destroyed or damaged by floods such as bridges, schools, roads and other facilities, a longer time was needed, which could range from one month to three years based on past experience of floods in the country, he noted.
Rodzi also said that KMN’s role in the face of flood disasters was to assist the agencies involved, especially the main agency, the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), in matters involving strategic action.
“If an issue arises and NADMA has planned a certain response, MKN will act to ensure that the disaster management will be smooth and effective to ensure the safety of the victims.
“Even with the government actions taken, public cooperation is still vital in managing a disaster, including by being more vigilant with the evolving situation, especially in having early awareness.
“In the context of floods, although the government may have made adequate preparations in terms of logistics, human resources and early warning system, the public has to respond to the situation so as to ease the government’s burden by taking early action fast such as moving their families to a safe place when the flood waters are still passable.
“I am confident that if all the people respond together to this challenge, the flood management will be better and we can save more lives and property,” he added.