IT was about 11pm, when Ahmad Hafiz Hafell received a call from his superior to prepare for work.
Strong wind had ripped through the northern states, sending roofs flying and toppling trees. The tail end of Typhoon Lekima brought thunderstorm to Penang on Friday (Aug 9).
Although the strong wind had slightly subsided at around 11pm, it was still dangerous to be out on the road when the weather was unpredictable.
“My family was quite worried, but we said our prayers before I left my home in Jelutong.
“I am a member of the Penang Island City Council special squad (Skuad Khas), tasked to clear debris and fallen trees after the storm on Friday (Aug 9).
“My team was assigned to clean up several areas in Pulau Tikus that night.
“I saw many fallen trees on my way to work. Several areas also had a blackout,” Ahmad Hafiz, 23, said.
Ahmad Hafiz, who has been a Penang Island City Council (MBPP) worker for two years, said that although the job was tough and dangerous, it was satisfying.
“If we are sincere with what we do, and we do it with compassion, a tough job can be easy,” he said when met in Jalan Utama today.
Ahmad Hafiz was clearing several uprooted trees and branches along the road with his team.
When asked by Buletin Mutiara how he felt after several days of work, his answer was: “It felt like an achievement.”
Another MBPP worker Mohamad Farhan Suid, 25, was also involved in the cleaning up in the aftermath of the storm.
“I travelled from my home in Teluk Bahang to Pulau TIkus to join my team at about 11pm that night.
“Together with other agencies, departments and volunteers such as the Fire and Rescue Department and Rela, we cleared the roads to ensure smooth traffic,” Mohamad Farhan, who has been working as a worker for four years, said.
MBPP senior public health assistant S. Siva Sankar said there were 39 members in the Pulau Tikus team.
“The team has to clear more than 60 locations that were hit by the storm in Pulau Tikus. My dedicated team members worked from morning at about 6.30am to night to ensure the safety of the public and road users.
MBPP community services assistant director Xavier Sebastian said he was thankful to some people who stopped their vehicles to help clear the debris on the road on Friday (Aug 9).
“The public has been very appreciative of the efforts taken by our heroes,” he said.
State Local Government, Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said a total of 247 trees at 236 locations on the Penang island were uprooted by the storm, in an update today (Aug 13).
“Out of the 247 trees, 244 had been cut up and removed to the roadsides. That gave a 98.7% performance of clearing them,” he told a press conference at Penang Botanic Gardens Department today.
Jagdeep said there were 412 fallen trees at 343 locations on the mainland, out of which MPSP had removed 391 trees. This meant 95% of the uprooted trees had been removed.
He added that 67.8% of the fallen trees and debris removed to the roadsides on the island had been transported to the Batu Maung transfer station while 61.2% of the fallen trees and other objects removed to the roadsides on the mainland had been transported to Ampang Jajar transfer station.
Jagdeep said that clearing works were scheduled to complete in three days.
Also present at the press conference were MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang and MBPP secretary Datuk Addnan Mohd Razali.
Story by Christopher Tan and K.H. Ong
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud and Alvie Cheng