PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK): Even before the clean-up of Penang's floods is completed, Malaysia is bracing for more floods in the coming days.
The north-east monsoon is likely to arrive in less than a week, bringing heavy rains until January to areas like Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, east Johor and west Sarawak.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has warned that low-lying or flood-prone areas in these states are at risk in the event of continuous rain lasting several days.
The country is expected to enter the north-east monsoon from the middle of November to March next year.
If continuous heavy rains occur at the same time as high tide, then the risks of flooding will be higher, MetMalaysia director-general Alui Bahari said in an e-mail reply to questions.
He said flooding episodes are to be expected in Kelantan and Terengganu from this month to December. From then to January, heavy rains are to be expected in Pahang and east Johor.
In January, heavy rains will likely hit west Sarawak, said Alui.
According to the MetMalaysia website, there are four seasons in Malaysia, namely the south-west monsoon (May to September), north-east monsoon (November to March), and the inter-monsoon periods.
Johor has already had a taste of what is coming when heavy rain led to flash floods in parts of Pontian on Thursday (Nov 9).
A bout of heavy afternoon showers also caused a few villages in Skudai in Johor to experience flash floods.
Johor Health, Environment, Information and Education committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat advised residents living in low lying areas not to take things for granted even though floods are annual occurrences in several parts of Johor.
"However, the flood patterns might change from year to year, depending on the amount of rainfall and how long it rains,'' added Ayub.
In Kelantan, more than 8,000 personnel from various agencies are on standby to provide assistance in case of floods.
Kelantan's state secretary Datuk Mohd Faudzi Che Mamat said they had set up a multi-agency taskforce to maximise resources to quickly assist flood victims.
The Kelantan authorities have prepared 163 relief centres to accommodate 20,000 flood victims.
"We have already started stocking food supplies in 216 bases covering all the districts in Kelantan," he said.
Pahang state secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail said the state's disaster committee was not expecting major floods this year. However, it has taken extra precautions after what happened in Penang and Kedah.
He said all supplies had been ordered to be sent to forward bases statewide beginning Nov 15.
"We are preparing as though there will be big floods," he said.
Sarawak state Fire and Rescue Department director Nor Hisham Mohd said they were fully prepared for any floods that may occur. He said 1,181 personnel have been put on standby with 590 on duty at any time round the clock.
The state also has 43 volunteer firefighter units comprising 2,100 members. All 29 fire station units across Sarawak have been divided into seven zones - Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang - for better coordination and efficient mobilisation.