Means Of Transport Cut Off By Flash Flood- Worst Disaster Trail of the Decade
Worst disaster trail due to flash flood cut off means of transport to majority of the Sarawak’s interior tribes the Kayans,Kenyahs, Penans and other minorities have been cut off lately.
Heavy torrential rains in these areas which were heavily deforested by timber and oil palm industries for this decade may have help flash flood. There is no natural stopping agent to stop or divert water flowing from the mountain into the rivers.
There are no more trees with larger roots on the soil surface to reduce the flow effect of the rain water, all soil are loosen and easily wash down the mountains including rocks, trees, logs, twigs and many other tons of unused rotten logs.
Everything are collected in the valleys , stream and rivers and washed down the river in a larger volume.
This time around May 20th, 2021 was the worst disaster trail on record for Baram and Trusan where majority of the mentioned tribes lives that depend on river, bridges and logging road for their means of transport to town.
Bridges built across rivers were washed down the rivers cutting off the transport backbone. These roads may not be accessible for the next few months for some parts until restored.
Rural communities in Sarawak depend on good road infrastructure all this while to bring down their products to be sold to the industries in the city. Their multiple income stream is badly affected by this worst disaster trail. Damaged logging road, bridges , wash away vegetables and fruit tress badly and directly impacted their income.
Flash Floods Worst Disaster Trail – Is It Nature’s Vengeance?
In the natural environment, sometimes reaction follow only when disaster strikes but it is too late and that’s is called reactive action. As disasters leave their mortal impact could be another worst disaster trail, and after so many innocent people lost their lives, there will be finger-pointing and clamor for blood.
Such was the case with the recent flash floods in Istanbul as an example. Since 1967, Istanbul suffered 13 floods which inevitably caused havoc and destruction in and around the city of Istanbul Turkey.
Apparently there were no flood mitigation measures put into place prior to the flash floods in September 2009.
The last floods in 2002, despite the experience, had not prompted any rethinking of policies vis-à-vis urban planning. It’s described as a “weather-related accident waiting to happen”.
What happened went beyond the term accident; it turned out to be a horrendous disaster.
At the worst stage of the torrential rains, access into sections of Istanbul including the highway which links to Istanbul Ataturk International Airport was cut-off.
When the two Istanbul streams burst their banks, homes and workplaces in the adjoining areas were severely flooded, with extensive damage to property and infrastructure. In the raging floods, roads turned into fast flowing rivers drowning many trapped enroute to work.
The surging waters flipped trucks and buses over like matchsticks, crushing them into piles of debris. The disaster struck low-lying areas on the western side of Turkey’s largest city where drainage is often poor.
The surging flash floods, moved at high speed, barreling across a major highway and into Istanbul’s busy business districts and in the process trapping factory workers and truck drivers in their vehicles.
Hundreds of homes and offices were flooded, in some places the waters two meters high. Emergency authorities confirmed that some 1,700 homes and offices were flooded in Istanbul’s suburbs of Silivri.
The damages incurred were again fresh reminders to exercise care when designing urban development plans. Poor urban planning will obviously result in inadequate infrastructure and when compounded by rapid population growth, the urban risks increase in magnitude and may become another worst disaster trail for the country.
The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce assessed that the damages caused by the flash floods ranged from $80 million to $90 million.
The Istanbul Meteorology Department said that the rainfall was the heaviest recorded in the last 80 years. It was apparent that Istanbul’s creaking infrastructure was unable to cope with the surge of water.
Skewed and unplanned development plus inadequate infrastructure have resulted in water flows being obstructed from reaching the sea through natural channels. The authorities acknowledged that the disaster “is a result of great negligence” attributed to spates of illegal construction in riverbeds in Istanbul.
Exercising great care in designing infrastructure and urban areas become more critical especially in the case of Istanbul, which is situated on the steep banks of the Bosphorus Straits.
Istanbul’s rapid population growth had been fueled by decades of rural-urban migration from impoverished regions. Hence, the city, a metropolis of 15 million has developed without adequate infrastructure to accommodate even a moderate rainfall.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the floods “the disaster of the century”. While blaming the high death toll on record rainfall he also pointed the finger on developers who constructed buildings in vulnerable riverbeds and flood plains.
Erdogan quoted a local saying “the river’s revenge will be strong”. Several urban planning experts said government officials also are partly to blame for the high death toll.
Istanbul’s Chamber of Architects alleged that the city’s administration created these conditions by allowing high density construction in the affected areas.
The Chamber sought a court injunction but did not succeed in preventing construction of industrial and commercial zones in western districts of Istanbul around the Ayamama River, where much of the flood occurred.
Unable to be absorbed by the ground, the water rises since the riverbeds have been turned into concrete channels together with the buildings around it. And already there are fresh warnings of bigger disasters.
The prime factors of flash floods have repeatedly been attributed to unplanned urbanization and the resulting erosion. Inadequate drainage systems and improper land use add on to the risks involved.
Uncontrolled construction in a lax atmosphere of urban planning without careful consideration for risk reduction is a recipe for disaster. The weight and force of any pressure applied to the extreme limits will eventually break the walls of resistance.
Any Town Planning student knows that with extreme pressure, dams would break; sewers burst their embankments, while the roads and streets turn into overflowing deadly waterways.
Hence, rapid urbanization should be sustained on town planning tracks, the development to infrastructural facilities designed corresponding to needs and the population growth. Urban development has its own risks. Left uncontrolled, unplanned and un-managed it will be disastrous eventuality.
Surprisingly, Turkey is no stranger to flash floods. Reports prepared by the Ministry of Public Works’ General Directorate of Disaster Affairs and State Waterworks Authority (DSI) revealed that floods are the second most destructive type of disaster in the country.
According to the report, 287 floods have occurred in Turkey in the past 20 years. Major flood disasters are again not new for Turkey.
The International Emergency Disasters Database (EM-DAT) indicated that between 1903 and 2003, Turkey experienced 32 major floods. The economic loss over the past 20 years is estimated to be $2 billion.
The impact of these floods on development, economic growth could be a tremendous drag. With the flood scenarios being oft repeated events, it noteworthy to know that the Turkish authorities spends $30 million each year for infrastructural measures to prevent flooding.
The flash flood prevention programme which DSI implemented since 1970 apparently achieved in reducing the number of annual flash floods significantly.(ii) That may be the case for the countrywide flood prevention programme, but the disastrous scenes in Istanbul clearly indicate that any deficiencies in mitigating measures will soon lash back with fury.
What is a Flash Flood and How Do I Prepare For One?
Flash floods are frightening and dangerous because they are sudden and strong. Since they usually start and end in less than six hours, it is nearly impossible to prepare for one.
How, then, does one protect one’s family from these frightening occurrences? The best defense you can have is knowledge: know what causes them, what surrounding areas are susceptible to flooding, and what to do if you find yourself in a flash flood situation.
What is a Flash Flood?
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of a low-lying area of land, usually near a river or a stream. Most of these events occur after heavy rain, often in areas that don’t usually receive much rainwater.
Flash floods may also flow when man-made or natural ice dams break. In very rare instances, volcanic activity may melt glaciers, triggering one. When the ground can’t absorb the rain as fast as it is falling, a these floods will occur.
Excess water then runs into streams and rivers and flows quickly downhill. Depending on geography, flash flooding can happen as far as thirty miles away from the original site of precipitation.
Flash floods are one of the most dangerous types of natural disasters. According to the National Weather Service, flash floods kill more people each year than lightning, tornadoes, or hurricanes.
Surprisingly, the speed of these damaging events is not their most dangerous quality. Indeed, most flash flood-related deaths transpire when people underestimate their power. Even a flood of just two feet can be swift and powerful enough to carry away an SUV-sized vehicle.
The majority of fatalities occur when people attempt to ford flooded areas in their vehicles. Many other deaths are attributed to collisions with hidden debris, such as branches or logs that are pushed along by the water. When it comes to avoiding a flash flood-related injury or death, the best advice comes from the US National Weather Service: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
Flood Damage Preparation
Due to their sudden nature, it is challenging to prepare for a flash flood. Still, there are a few precautions you can take if you live in an area that is prone to flooding.
The most commonly flooded areas are southern and eastern states like Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Desert areas of the West, such as Nevada, are also hotspots, since arid soil can’t hold much water.
The most obvious precaution to take against flash floods is to stay up-to-date on weather patterns and flood warnings. Do not take any chances; if there is a chance a flood may hit your home or business, get out immediately.
You can prepare for flash floods before any warning is announced by storing valuables and sentimental items in high places. A flood may be powerful, but if you keep valuables high, there is a smaller chance of water damage.
Finally, try to save pictures of your valuables, in case they do get damaged. Having pictures of your house, car, furniture, and other assets will help speed up the insurance claim process following any disaster. (By the way, you do have flood insurance, right?)
Flash floods are dangerous, unexpected, and unpredictable. They can take lives, destroy homes, and cause extensive damage. Fortunately, with a little preparation, a flash flood doesn’t have to be devastating.
The Hidden Effects of Flooding on the Environment
Flooding is disastrous no matter where it hits. In some parts of the developing world, flooding and its after effects can cost countless lives and leave thousands destitute. And even in the West, when flood waters rise it can be calamitous.
And the after effects of flooding can be just as bad as the flood waters themselves. Drought, famine, disease and homelessness can all be brought on by flood waters; but there are also hidden effects caused by flooding, and more importantly by our efforts to combat floods.
It is fairly common knowledge that an increase in the global temperature brought about by climate change and the greenhouse effect, brings with it an increase in the likelihood of flooding.
In the UK, flooding has increased dramatically in recent years with some areas suffering from the effects of flooding for the first time in living memory.
And while there are some grand engineering schemes to prevent flooding; the majority of flood defenses that are relied upon to curb rising flood waters are ancient methods, used for years.
Traditional sandbags are still commonly used to halt flood waters and defend properties from floods – but the effects of using traditional sandbags to defend from flooding could actually be making the problem worse in the long run.
Sandbags, quite obviously require sand. But using sand for traditional sandbags has many effects on the environment.
Firstly, traditional sandbags are time consuming to fill and require large quantities of sand. For this reason, and because flooding is never easily predicted, sandbags are often filled in advance, this means they have to transported full.
A typical sandbag, when full, weighs several kilos and transporting them during times of flooding produces large amounts of CO2, especially with van loads of sandbags being transported to flood waters during the wet months.
Secondly, sand is a virgin resource. There may be plenty of it around but it isn’t just sitting around doing nothing. When floods hit the UK, vast amounts of sand are required to fill sandbags and most of it is dredged from the Bristol Channel.
This can alter the flow of the river causing untold effects on the local environment and water table. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this dredged virgin resource is then just dumped on to landfill once it has been used.
Instant Sandbags do away with all that transporting of sand. They can be stored and transported empty and flat; then inflated – with just water – within minutes. Yet they act and weigh the same as traditional sandbags when full and yet when the flood waters subside the water can naturally be drained from the instant sandbag doing away with all that dumping of soiled sand.
Localities in Sarawak’s Interior Affected by Flash Flood in May 2021- New Disaster Trail
For the Tutoh and Apoh region where the Kayans, Penans, Berawans, Kelabits lives their livelihood will be changed due to their method and means of transport being distrubted. The villages includes the Penans at Long Kawa area and long Buang, the Berawan at Long Terawan and Mulu, The Kelabit at Long Seridan, Kayans at Long Bemang, Long Atip. Long Bedian, Long Panai, Long Wat and many more penans villages along the river banks.
For the Baram are the villages in Kelabit majority Bario, the Kenyahs and Kayans right from Lio Mato down to Long Lama town.
This is another problem on top of the current pandemic due to Covid19 virus. These areas were the only green areas in the State of Sarawak as of May 2021.