Friday, 14 June 2013

When Mother Nature visited Penang

So where were you when the gale-force winds hit Penang yesterday evening? 

Just like the Indian Ocean tsunami that affected our shores on 26 December 2004, this latest tragedy is a reminder that Mother Nature is still the greatest force to be reckoned with on our planet. We can plan all we want but Mother Nature will still know how to expose and exploit our weakest points.

As for the strong winds that ripped apart the concrete and lightning arrestor at the 21-storey UMNO building in MacAlister Road, George Town, we should grief for the unfortunate victim that died and hope that those injured would recover quickly. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When the storm broke at about seven o'clock, I was at the Sentosa hawker centre in Bukit Mertajam, buying dinner for my wife and I. Just as the hawker finished cooking the food, a huge deluge of rain descended on the town, followed by huge gusts of wind.

Obviously, as it was impossible for me to even run to the car, I decided to wait out the storm at the hawker centre. Right in front of me, lamp shades were swinging wildly. I could also see the weighted bamboo awnings flap around in the wind. They were blowing open and then blew shut again. Nervousness showed on the faces of the hawkers nearest to the awnings. Nothing like this had been experienced before.

One of these huge awnings even flew up on the roof of the hawker centre and stayed there for several minutes. One moment it was there flapping away but the next moment, it was gone. Actually, I thought the wind had torn it away but no, the part of the awning was still fastened securely to the building and the awning had swung up to rest on the roof. Only after several more minutes did the strong gusts of wind finally send it swinging down again and crashing on the side of the building.

Just as fast as the winds came, they died down rather quickly. The rain also eased to a trickle, long enough for me to walk back to my car and drive back home. Soon later, word reached us about the disaster that had hit George Town. The rest, as we all know, have already been reported in the news and social media.

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