When natural disasters happen, most people are rather unprepared for the worst. Luckily, Malaysia does not really have bad natural disasters compared to other countries. Because the country sits right outside the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, we are exempted from experiencing major catastrophic events such as earthquakes and volcano eruptions. Despite that, Malaysia becomes highly vulnerable to flash floods and landslides, especially the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, due to the Southwest and Northeast monsoon seasons the country faces each year. The increase in the frequency of these disasters happening is mainly influenced by rapid developments in urban and even rural areas, where deforestation and land-overuse are carried out. When the Northeast monsoon season comes around, it brings heavy rainfalls and wind for the duration of November to March. However, activities like commercial logging and vegetation removal for farm terracing contribute to soil erosion as less rainwater can be stored in it, resulting in landslides and even flooding.
The effects of these natural disasters towards the nation
Now people outside of Malaysia might think that we have it easy since our natural disasters are not all that disastrous however, we are a Third World country, a simple flood and pull away homes from so many people. They result in so much damage not only to households but small businesses as well. What is worse is when those affected by a natural disaster are already living in poverty, which amounts to around 5.6% of our nation. So alongside that, we will also experience a financial crisis peak.
One of the biggest floods Malaysia has had in over 30 years happened in 2014 when almost half the whole state of Kelantan experienced heavy torrential rain. The rain was so heavy that it took only three days of rainfall to record 64 days worth of rainfall. So many homes were underwater and due to this, not only do people lose their homes but they lose their jobs too in most cases. Thus, this does not only affect the state’s financial crisis, but it also leads to the people experiencing financial struggles as well.
Most of the time, natural disasters that have this big of an impact, usually impacts the people’s mental health as well. Although some people might take this really lightly, mental health issues are not something to be taken lightly at all, especially since this is most likely trauma brought on issues. Trauma can easily trigger intense emotions, depression, anxiety or even anger. Even a change in lifestyle, which will most likely happen after a natural disaster, will be really stressful and sometimes too much to process and take in.
Ways to improve rehabilitation in the aftermath
Albeit the disasters, ruin, and pain, what matters most is how we handle the aftermath. The good thing about Malaysians is that we help each other a lot. Malaysia’s disaster mitigation plan is usually to help the ones affected by handling donations that bring in clothes and food supply for the ones who lost everything to the flood. Having a shelter is important too, which is why those who’ve lost their homes will be put in a disaster shelter at first before being guided on what to do next.
Usually, during these times, people will be focused on rehabilitation and reconstruction. Rehabilitation in terms of helping the people get settled and making sure every single one is taken care of, getting enough food and water as well. Following that is the reconstruction of every area destroyed. This will of course take a lot of time however, it is important to give people back their homes. In this process, it is encouraged to use products that prove to be more durable during future disasters. For instance, coating the walls and floorings of the new houses with wax emulsions that can be supplied by the chemical manufacturer in Malaysia. Other than that, it is also better to build the houses on higher ground or build a foundation before constructing the house.
Thus, despite Malaysia being outside the Pacific Ring of Fire, we still experience natural disasters just as traumatizing and heart-wrenching as disasters in any other country. What matters most is whether we come out weaker or stronger, and we’re usually the latter.