Yesterday, Monday 7th of March 2022, Kuala Lumpur has a really bad flash flood. Hundreds of cars in the building basement car parks and on the roads got drown-fully and partially. Personal loss to car owners and buildings damage amounted to millions of ringgits.
Flash floods are normal in any city all over the world. But this one is a real manifestation of climatic change. Now, more and more people started believing that global warming and climatic are real. A few years ago, only scientists and engineers were talking about it. Now members of the public have become witnesses to the effects of global warming and climate change in weather patterns, frequencies of flood and intensities of the rainfalls.
Yesterday, we have a big downpour in certain parts of Kuala Lumpur at 3 pm. The rainfall kept pouring at 50mm/hour for two hours. It was 10 times the usual rate of precipitation. At 5 pm, a few major roads were flooded and the city became a gridlock. Imagine you are inside the car on your way home and you got stranded on the roads surrounded by two feet of water. At certain locations, a few people have to climb on their cars to stay safe. If you get stuck, it is better to be inside your car with the rest of the crowd. How long do you have to wait? It varies from place to place before the floodwater subsides.
Do you have a personal experience getting stuck on the road under heavy rainfall? I did and it happened to me about five years ago. After my lunch, I got ready to drive 33 km from Bandar Baru Bangi to Kuala Lumpur to attend the funeral of my friend. The weather was not good and I thought It would be like normal rain in Malaysia. Halfway, the rainfall started to fall very heavily. I could not see the car 50 m away and the traffic was crawling. I had to make a decision to proceed to Kuala Lumpur and God knows what I would be driving into and attending my friend’s funeral or going home and being safe. Using Waze, I changed my destination to my home. Thank God, I have an exit 100 m away and decided to return home. What a great relief!
Once I was on the route chosen by Waze to return home, I did not have a clue where I was because the weather became dark and visibility is about 100m.I hardly could see what were along the road. The road was unfamiliar because the Waze logic got me to follow minor roads to avoid jammed highways and major roads. I wanted to go home fast because I wanted to avoid the roads becoming flooded, but I had to travel slowly at 60km/hr due to the presence of rainwater flowing on the roads. I guessed the depth of water was about 50mm. At certain locations, I have to take detours due to fallen tree branches on the road. What worries me most was that some sections of the road may get flooded and I will get stuck for hours. When incoming cars passed me, water on the road will splash on my screen and I become blinded for a few seconds. That was scary when my car was moving at 60km/hr and I could not see anything in front of me.
At times like this, it is better to call family members or friends to let them where you are so that they know where you are. In case any accidents may happen they know where to locate you. At the next traffic light, I called my wife to inform her and send my location using WhatsApp. She was very happy to hear my voice and that I was on the way home.
After a scary wet ride of 20km that took almost one hour, I was happy and grateful to arrive home in one piece. The only thing missing from my car was the front plate number went missing. It must be dislocated when my car was wading a few kilometres of inundated roads on my way home.
Looking back, I lived in Kuala Lumpur from 1984 to 2009, the flash always happens a few times a year. Lately, flash floods are getting worse every year. Whatever the city hall was doing is not improving the flood situation. A new approach like an underground stormwater drainage system should be considered. It may cost billions of ringgit. Both ways, we have to pay for our follies in building a city that failed to work in harmony with nature. No one ever wins fighting against Nature.
I am now in my late’60s and seldom drive my car. I prefer to take public transport like bus or train. For short distances, I hire a grab taxi. It is better to be safe than sorry.