Devastation started on the morning of December 4th 2013 and it rained nonstop affecting thousands of homes, businesses and lives in the east coast of the peninsula. By December 6th, there were close to 40,000 evacuees in Pahang, 2,400 in Kelantan and 6,000 in Terengganu. There were also a handful of SKD’s staff and family members evacuated from their Kemaman homes.
“When it started to rain on Dec 3rd, we went to sleep at my sister’s house nearby because it had never flooded there,” said 59-year-old Kamariah Othman. “But at 4am the next day, we were woken by her neighbour when water started flowing into their house. Never have I witness such a catastrophe this bad in my life”, cried a local mother hit by the raging waters.
This prompted a team of volunteers from SKD and SKPB headed by VP of SKD Norzaidi and SKD Special Projects Manager Jerryson Abraham Doss together with a group of Land Rovers enthusiast, called MyLandy, as well as with Viva Odyssey Safety Consultants Team to go to the rural area of Kemaman and Kuantan. The main objective was to distribute food, school items and cleaning appliances to places where normal vehicles were unable to go, such as rough terrains, flood prone sites and muddy areas.
(As told by a volunteer): The day to go was agreed to be on December 21st. It was initially a week earlier but there was a meteorological report mentioning a second wave of rain and flood would occur. Thus it was postponed. On the morning of December 21st, a dozen Land Rovers from the Mylandy club headed by Mr Zaidi together with a convoy of other 4 wheel drive vehicles started the 5 hour journey to Kemaman. All vehicles were laden with supplies and donated goods coupled with almost 50 enthusiastic volunteers.
Once we reached Kemaman they headed up to base camp which was graciously offered by a local host En Adam. His house were already filled with boxes of food, rice and other supplies, waiting to be segregated into bags. We did just that after having lunch and managed to fill up all the vehicles. Once all done, a local guide was appointed and brought the volunteers to the first destination. Along the ride, there were destructions everywhere, be it the houses, vehicles, shops as well as the schools were not spared. The first stop was at a road side. A single teddy bear perched on a bench caught our eyes. This was followed by a family of 4 busy cleaning what seem to be what was left of their house. We were shocked to see that it was broken into two. A few of us went down from the vehicles, spoke to them and gave them some supplies. Another group ventured in deeper into a small lane, whereby we saw more destruction. We started to distribute some supplies and initiated conversation with the villages. It was really a heart breaking moment to hear their plight.
However somehow this fueled our determination to further extend our help to more villages. We managed to cover quite a few more areas and distributed all the supplies in the vehicles. We were quite satisfied with our achievement in that short span of time, and since it was already dark we headed out to base camp.
As we convened back in En Adam’s house, we could not stop talking of the day’s event. We noticed there were quite a lot more supplies that were not distributed. Someone had mentioned that there were some areas we did not managed to cover due to time constraint and there were no more bags to distribute. This prompted a group of us led by Jerryson to segregate the remaining supplies into bags and to load them up into the vehicles. We were all geared up to cover those areas and to reach as many villages as possible. For the second time that day, covered in mud and sweat we set off again with a determination to make a difference in someone else’s life today.
We fulfilled this mission and purpose of this trip this time with a grateful heart. The last batch of goods were distributed slightly before midnight and we decided to call it a day. Food prepared by a group of us were waiting at the camp. We felt really blessed. We expected natural disaster to follow its course. Devastation to properties, shops, vehicles and schools. What we did not expect to see was a lone teddy bear perched on a bench.
It told us a story – for 10 years this doll belonged to a little girl and today it is dirty, muddy, smelly and perhaps torn. It touched our hearts but instead of it being discarded and treated for what it is, the little girl (now almost 15 years old), washed and dried it up because she has hope that it will be good as new so that her siblings can have it. A state or a country for that matter can be brought down in a second, but it is how the people react and rebuild which matters most.