AS flash floods strike Penang with increasing regularity, Twitter users recorded their fears over the latest storm that brought heavy rain and fierce winds, and worry over family and friends affected.
Trending hashtags are led by #PrayForPenang, inundating social media with prayers for the island state that has been hit with a record 315mm rainfall overnight.
Other users provided links to emergency services updates and also offered to start blood donation drives.
A user with the handle Wild flower empress wrote, “Guys I’m trying to remain calm but I’m actually scared of this heavy rain super windy weather Penang u ok o not”.
Heavy rain and typhoon-like winds began at 2pm yesterday, causing floods after five hours of downpour. The rain continued overnight, leading Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to call Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at 3.30 am to request help from the army.
Army personnel were mobilised earlier today to assist with evacuations and cleaning up.
On Thursday, state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow told the state legislative assembly that Penang had been hit by a total of 119 flash flood incidents between 2013 and last month.
Each year since 2013 has seen roughly 20 to 30 flash flood Incidents, with the highest at 30 in 2016. This year, there have been 21 incidents as at October 15.
In mid-September, Penang received 270mm of rainfall, a record at the time, causing widespread flash floods on the island and mainland.
Penang was placed on a red storm alert yesterday by the Meteorological Department, and was downgraded to orange today but forecast that rain and strong winds would continue. Orange means that people in affected areas should prepare for anticipated conditions.
Twitter user Sekuntum Sal tweeted “Penang is red… wind howling like wolves” while another user, The Khabir wrote, “Flooding everywhere in Penang and the wind is just insane”.
The Khabir tweeted again hours later last night: “I’ve never seen rain this much and winds this strong blowing since morning in Penang. It’s insane. Huge tree in front of my house fell too”.
“Penang was so heartbroken she cried herself to sleep last night. She got so drunk she destroyed everything too,” wrote another Twitter user, Clarissa.
Another Twitter user posted a photo of a flooded area surrounding an apartment swimming pool and tweeted: “In Penang, there’s such a thing as a swimming pool in a swimming pool… LOLs.”
Other pictures on social media showed a 440-tonne ferry stuck on a cement dock after being tossed up by waves.
The Penang government, which is led by federal opposition party DAP, got an message of support from ally PKR, with Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali tweeting, “Penang flood disaster – hang in there @cmlimguaneng, I pledge full support to help in whatever way we can”.