KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The monsoon season is coming and the Fire and Rescue Department says it is prepared for things to go as bad as the east coast flood crisis last year.
Over the year, officers in the flood-prone states of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu have been conducting water training in rivers to test their readiness to evacuate scores of people should water levels rise.
Fire and Rescue Department assistant director-general (Operations Division) Soiman Jahid said assets had been placed in the states in preparation for the rainy season.
"We are preparing for it to be as bad as last year. We have conducted water training for officers to be well-versed in navigating floods and we have made sure our fire engines and boats are all in good working order in those states.
"And we are prepared to freeze all the leave of our officers there once the Meteorological Department issues a red warning on flooding in the eastern states," said Datuk Soiman.
Should more manpower be needed, he said, firemen in Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Johor were ready to be deployed to the east coast.
"This is going to be an inter-agency effort with coordination with the police, military, the state government down to the district officers," he said.
In Terengganu, 700 firemen will be at the ready on 24-hour shifts come the monsoon season.
The state department will deploy 35 aluminium boats and 15 lorries for rescue and evacuation operations while officers will be placed in "flood hot spots" in Chukai, Hulu Besut, Setiu, Kuala Berang and some low lying areas in Dungun.
The Terengganu Civil Defence Department has also instructed all village heads in the state to keep the authorities up to date with the latest information on the number of villagers and their conditions, so that rescue operations can be run more efficiently.
They have also advised people to prepare a "ready to go" bag filled with their important documents, diapers and milk formula if there are infants, and any vital medication.
For Johor, firemen have been running disaster management courses with local communities living in flood-prone areas at the Juaseh dam to prepare for the year-end rain.
On the Klang Valley, Datuk Soiman said the department was concerned about more landslide occurrences during the rainy season, due to the "weak structures" of slopes here.
He said officers had been working with residents' associations in hilly areas to prepare for quick evacuations in the event of a landslide.
The national Civil Defence Department is ready to deploy 49,800 regular members and volunteers to aid in flood relief operations.