Flood was in the front page of newspapers and in social medias even as the new year was being celebrated. In fact it seemed the flood ushered in the first month of this year, upsetting a lot of people and destroying hundreds of thousands ringgit worth of properties.
Residents of villages in Membakut and Beaufort as well as Kota Belud and Kudat bore the brunt of the onslaught with many suffering tremendous loss such as their houses and their livestock and most of their worldly goods.
For Membakut Eco Resort, the loss was double folded due to its economic presence in that area. It did not only support the tourism industry as an eco resort but also its many staff, who are all from in an around Membakut area.
Talking about the fateful night on Jan 21, when the water overwhelmed this resort, ten staff were on duty. They ranged from general workers to cooks and other support staff.
Arshad Rashid, 28, who is from Kg Lumandak another village a few kilometres outside of the resort area says it happened so fast.
“It has been raining all day but I did not anticipate that it would flood like that. I was however always on the alert and in the evening I noticed that the water was noticeably higher under our resort building,” he shares.
“It was about 7 pm when I grew worried as the rain did not stop and the water was noticeably higher. We then found out that the flood water had filled in our lake and was over our overflow dam. We then immediately decided to act fast to try and save our electrical items here.”
The young man then rounded up all the staff and asked everyone to switch off the electricity in all the rooms. It was a dangerous job because they never knew if there were electricity leaks in the wiring or if there were broken glasses submerged in water on the floor.
“After switching off the electricity, we start taking out all the electrical goods, such as computers,. Lap tops and the televisions. We worked in a group handing out all the items and bundling them onto the highest area we have. It was the table at the restaurant in our case.”
He says, the water started to rise in earnest then making them abandon their evacuation work.
“It rose up very fast almost an inch every few seconds, so by the time it was 10 pm, the walkway was no longer visible,” he says.
He then shepherded his group unto higher grounds bringing several items they saved from the onslaught of flood.
“All through that time, I was on adrenalin rush and wanting to save as much items as possible. I was also worried about my parents, but I heard the water was just on the first step of the stairs up the house, so I was relieved.”
For Roger Ondoi, 45, a supervisor in the resort, it was a nightmare as it was pitch dark during the height of the flood.
“All the electricity had been switched off. We depended on the handrail on the walkway to go around. Water rose up to four feet and we were still there, depending solely on the handrail not to fall into the ground, because it would have been deeper.”
“It was dangerous feat but we managed.”
Arshad continued saying, when they got up to look at the flood next morning it was with a sense of sadness that they saw many items like gas tank, fridge, chairs and cooking utensils floating around.
“I was deeply saddened. As a staff of this resort we want to work hard to make it a success. This is our livelihood, where we eke a living.”
“This flood is a setback for us. All the cleaning and reestablishing the rooms and making sure everything is back in its former tip top condition will take months.”
The flood receded on Jan 23, and only then the full damage was seen. The beds and other furniture in most of the rooms were soaked and cloaked in mud, the toilets were clogged and most didnt work.
The floor was in an inch of mud while other items were outside on the ginger plants outside.
The damage according to an unofficial tally is about RM600,000 not including foreseen bookings for activities within the first six months of the year.
The eco-resort lake famous for its annual fishing competition site is also badly effected as it was submerged in flood water for almost 48 hours. Most of the fish would have been flooded away.
The Resort is about one and a half hour drive from Kota Kinabalu with buildings, on stilts, connected by a tunnel-like roofed walkway, was surrounded by gardens where herbs such as galangal, pandanus and Torch ginger, thrived.
There were 34 comfortable deluxe rooms, 40 units of dormitory and six suites. The deluxe rooms feature twin sharing with attached bathrooms and air conditioning, while the dorm as usual offers bunks and common bathrooms.
The suites featured single queen beds and a sitting area. There were a couple of room with a prayer area.
It was a conducive place to carry out motivation, team building and integration programmes and for this purpose dormitory facility are available with a conference room and a huge hall that can easily seat 600 people.
For now however, this resort is in a shamble, one of the victims of the flood in Membakut and Beaufort.- Sayangsabah.