Last month, we had been visited by Nur Faridah (BERNAMA), we apologized for the improper arrangement and
|July 27, 2007 10:49 AM|
Cyclone Gonu Brings A Whole New Experience For Malaysians In Oman
CLOSE COMFORT… Malaysians living and working in the Sultanate, seek comfort in each other when the Cyclone Gonu, hits Oman more than a month ago. The catastrophic event causing 49 deaths and U$1 billion in damages, will remain as an unforgettable experience for over 200 Malaysians living there. Seen here are Malaysian living in Oman (from left) Intan, Audrey Abdullah, Raja Zaireen Raja Zaib Shah, and Rohaya Haji Mohd. Pix: Faridah Rashid
From Nor Faridah A. Rashid
MUSCAT, July 27 (Bernama) — Cyclone Gonu, which hit Oman more than a month ago causing 49 deaths and U$1 billion in damages, will remain an unforgettable experience for over 200 Malaysians in the Sultanate.
It was a frightening event but for some, it was thrilling as well because they had never experienced a cyclone before.
Staying in a faraway land and not knowing what to expect, several Malaysians decided to gather in a house, to face the ferocious Gonu that pummelled Oman on June 6, bringing with it heavy rain and strong wind.
Many failed to realise the destructive power of the cyclone, the strongest tropical storm to hit the region in 30 years, until they went to check out the aftermath of the cyclone.
Housewife Intan Falisha Mazlan, 38, said she did not really know what to expect when she received SMS from the Omani authorities warning them of the impending cyclone with instructions to stock up on food and remain indoors.
“Thoughts of the tsunami crossed my mind and I panicked because I did not know what the cyclone would be like,” she told Bernama here.
INTAN HOSTS 20 MALAYSIANS
After receiving the SMS, she made phone calls to friends and relatives. Intan and her husband, Zulkapeli Saban, ended up being the host to 20 other Malaysians, including a couple who were expecting their third child any moment then.
Malaysians are known for their hospitality and Intan was no exception. Besides having to worry about the cyclone, she was also concerned that there might not be enough food for her guests.
“We had stocked up enough food only for the family and I was worried whether there will be enough for my friends.
“But one thing for sure, it helps to be among friends at a time like this, where we found comfort and support among us,” said Intan.
When the cyclone hit, they had gathered in the sitting room of Intan’s single storey house, not daring to even steal a peek out of the windows as the winds and heavy rains lashed mercilessly.
Through the curtains, they could see the shadows of trees swaying fiercely outside.
For Intan’s brother-in-law, Mohd Nazri Saban, the cyclone reminded him very much of the movie Independence Day.
“I was worried but at the same time also curious, when I saw dark clouds moving swiftly just like in the movie,” said the drilling maintenance supervisor at an oil and gas company here.
After the storm calmed down, he checked out the area with several friends.
Heading towards the beach at Yitti, some 25km from Muscat, where Malaysians usually go for camping and barbecues, they were shocked to find the place completely devastated and the commercial centre in Muscat in a total mess.
“There was no more beach. It was under water and some parts of the road leading to the beach were badly damaged but the government was quick to construct other access roads,” said Mohd Nazri.
GONU A RESPITE?
While the adults had dreaded the cyclone, for the children it was another story altogether, for they welcomed the rain.
“With the rain, at least it felt a bit cooler,” said Nadira Zulkapeli, 13, who was obviously excited at the change in weather.
“This is because some of them, especially the toddlers, have never seen rain before since being born here,” said Mohd Nazri. Oman’s weather is relatively dry and rain is a rare event.
Intan said that she had a tough time stopping the children from going out.
“Here we are worrying about the cyclone and the children say they want to go sight-seeing!” she lamented.
For housewife Rohaya Mohd and her husband Mohd Zunaidi Kadir, both 44, the cyclone was very frightening especially when they saw water slowly rising on the roads and highways.
Mohd Zunaidi was informed of the cyclone heading to his area by his employer and he also received SMS from the Omani authorities.
“At first I did not feel anything because I have never experienced a cyclone before. I stocked up on food and remained indoors,” said the contract supervisor with Daleel Petroleum LLC.
IT RAINS CAT AND DOGS
“And when the rains and strong winds came, it was so intense that rain water seeped in through the windows and we had to constantly drain it out ,” said Mohd Zunaidi, who worked with Petronas for some 20 years before coming to Oman.
From the fifth floor of his apartment, he could see the road and highway being slowly submerged.
“The following day I went out and saw the devastation caused by the cyclone, houses were badly damaged and plenty of cars, including luxury ones, were still under water.
“Concrete bridges collapsed and some were practically broken into two,” he said.
Surprisingly, after that, there was a water shortage and some shop owners took advantage of the situation by hiking up prices of bottled water but the Omani government swiftly brought matters under control.
“Help was aplenty, even from the business community. Some supermarkets even reduced prices for those buying in bulk,” Mohd Zunaidi said.
THUMBS UP FOR THE OMANI GOVERNMENT
Malaysians agreed that the Omani government’s quick action in sending out the SMS warning to all residents had helped them prepare in advance.
It was definitely a good move, they said, adding that the Omani government’s swift action on a number of issues like attending to damaged infrastructure helped bring things back to normal in a matter of days.
People from critical areas exposed to high waves and strong winds were evacuated. At Masirah Island, which was hit by a devastating cyclone in 1977, they evacuated about 7,000 people. Overall, more than 20,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters.
Government offices were also closed for two days and a five-day long national holiday was declared.
As for the Malaysians, the cyclone may be a frightening experience but they have learned a lot not only of the cyclone but also their host nation.
Filed under: PENGETAHUAN