The floods in the south of Peninsular Malaysia that hit us on 19 December, and again in early January, were a shock to the whole nation. It was on a scale quite unprecedented in terms of the number of people affected and in the cost of the damages to property and livelihood.
Methodist churches were spared the devastation but many members’ homes were affected and some had to be evacuated. The CAC reported 81 families were affected, the TAC 39 families and TRAC 9 families. Towns most badly affected were Segamat, Chaah, Sungai Rambai, and Melaka. Some member’s business premises and clinic were also damaged by flood waters.
Although church buildings were spared the Segamat Wesley Seniors Home was flooded on the ground floor. However, the first floor was still used as a place of refuge in the immediate aftermath of the floods!
However the Calvary Charismatic Centre in Segamat has several homes for the physically handicapped, drug rehabilitation, and the destitute that were badly affected. Some of them were housed by the Chinese Methodist Church. These homes will need some substantial funds to be operational again. A total number of about 110 residents were affected.
Churches in the affected towns responded as well and fast as they could, given the sudden rise of waters without warning. Thankfully there was no loss of lives.
Wesley Methodist Church Melaka opened the Wesley Hostel for flood victims. Some TAC churches were used as refuge centers. Wesley Segamat released RM1000 as immediate aid. The General Conference released RM10,000 to help the TAC families.
So far about RM12,000 have been disbursed to these families from TAC, each family receiving RM300. But this is not enough and more is needed to help them. The TAC continues to raise funds from their churches. The General Conference’s appeal has met with good responses from fellow Methodists in Sarawak and Sabah as well as churches from the Peninsular. Mr Tung Kam Seng, Conference Secretary, reports that so far about RM80,000 has come in.
The CAC Board of Social Concerns had Area Relief Work Committees set up in Melaka, Segamat, Johor Baru and Sungai Rambai. In total these Work Committees disbursed about RM85,000 in the form of cash, aid items like food, drinking water, mattresses, etc. This also included financial aid to 225 students of a secondary school.
The churches in these areas are now also helping other victims as well. Over 100,000 people are affected and there is much to be done. Wesley Segamat is collecting good, usable clothes for their G-Mart store they have set up. Wesley Johor Baru initiated a distribution of pre-packed kits – a basic health and education kit, each costing between RM5.00 to RM10.00. (See also the Chinese article on page 5.)
These floods have raised questions about their causes and how far they could have been prevented or at least damages reduced. People still feel anxious when heavy rains are forecast, uncertain if the rivers will overflow yet again. But this has also been an opportunity to share in Christian care for those within the Christian family as well as those outside of it.