GEORGE TOWN: This morning’s flash floods at the Penang International Airport have been described as shameful by a state executive councillor, saying it would affect the state and country’s image as a whole.
Tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the floods came at a time when Penang was working hard to bring in more international events and direct flights.
Besides the airport, flash floods hit several parts of the greater Bayan Lepas area. They abated quickly without anyone being evacuated.
A video showing cars driving through a flooded driveway at the airport entrance is making its rounds on social media.
In a brief statement, Yeoh hoped Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), together with the drainage and irrigation department (DID), public works department and the city council, would immediately start working out a long-term solution.
In an immediate posting on its Facebook page, the airport operator said the flooding was due to “extremely heavy” rain, with waters receding within 15 minutes.
MAHB said it regretted the inconvenience caused by the flash floods, saying it did not affect any flight. However, it said several flights were delayed due to the poor weather.
It also denied reports that there were power outages, saying there were minor power trips that were restored almost immediately.
“Although the airport’s flood mitigation measures, such as the on-site detention tank, were functioning well, continuous and extremely heavy rainfall caused water levels to rise quickly.
“Floodwaters had receded by 10.15am and cleaning work was completed in the next 15 minutes,” it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Penang government said it had carried out the best flood mitigation plans to avert flash floods, but these came with certain limitations.
State infrastructure committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said today’s rainfall intensity was too high and existing mitigation measures could not cope with it.
“When the rainfall is too much, it will be over the capacity,” he said when contacted.
He said today’s rainfall in the affected areas was very high, with 72.5mm recorded at Sungai Ara and 112.5mm in Bagan Air Itam.
Zairil also dismissed Gerakan’s questions on whether allocations for flood mitigation were used properly, saying these were disingenuous as four new pump houses had been built in Bayan Baru and Teluk Kumbar.
“These pump houses were running at full capacity this morning.
“Unfortunately, there are always limitations when it comes to flood mitigation. That’s why we call it mitigation — the system is designed to mitigate a certain level of rainfall intensity.”
Zairil said the DID had been ordered to carry out a post-mortem on the floods to see whether any modifications or improvements can be made to existing mitigation measures.