Two weeks ago, the Maong River jumped its banks and swallowed my entire neighborhood. We were not alone. The Kuching District received its worst flood in 40 years.
The Great Kuching Flood
It had been raining daily leading up to the Chinese New Year. But the day after that, it really began to pour. I learned later that 2000mm of rain had fallen in 24hrs further inland. The canals and drains all began to fill and spill over their banks. But then curiously, at mid-day, the rising water slowed and even receded a bit
But that week was a very high King Tide, and so to prevent the ocean water from backing up the Sarawak River estuary, the locks on the Sarawak, the Barrage, were sealed at 3pm. Now all the rainwater had nowhere to go. As evening fell, the waters rose all around us, even though the rain was only drizzling. By midnight, the water was an inch or two below my front gate. My neighbors at the end of the block had their lights on. I could see that their front verandas had flooded.
The next morning the rain had stopped. The flood was between two and three feet deep all over. No one from our neighborhood could get to work. Of course, all of Kuching was not flooded like this. I live in a low-lying area near a tributary to the Sarawak River. Downtown Kuching did not flood. But many traditional kampungs along the rivers and streams, and new developments like ours were inundated. Thousands were evacuated from their homes around the Kuching regional district. Inland, in the hillier regions, there was even a landslide that claimed a life. All in all, it was the worst flood to hit Kuching since 1963.
Later in the day, I could see a relief boat pass by where our main street used to be. There is a kampung within walking distance of us, on the other side of the river. They were completely flooded, not even able to wade through the floodwaters. Luckily, the people there still keep small boats and rafts as a precaution.
Down the block from our house is a pocket park with a playscape, swings and a sunken amphitheatre. I doubt the amphitheatre was designed as a detention basin, but it certainly served as one that day. It made a nice little pool for the kids. Iwan is in the middle, sporting his favorite Detroit Tigers shirt.
Welcome to Literature Villa, Venice on the Equator. Did I mention that we found this house through the internet back in the States? Now I know why the rent was so cheap!