KOTA KINABALU: Four days after what is believed to be the worst flood ever in Penampang, affected victims are left to deal with the aftermath.

Rosemary Goh and husband Albert Jaboo are among hundreds who spent their days and nights cleaning after the flood that not only left thigh-deep mud in their compound, but destroyed almost everything at home.

“Other than two days of clothes I packed for my three children, Albert and I, plus some items that we managed to put on the sofa, we basically lost everything.

“When we came back, all my children’s clothes were washed away. We nearly lost our documents and marriage certificate, luckily Albert found it still inside a plastic file among the pile of rubbish at the verandah,” said Rosemary.

Recalling the incident, she said the day started as one of those “lazy Sunday” evenings.

“It was raining and we were just napping when I heard my eldest son yelling ‘river’. We were intrigued because although we live by the river, you can’t really see it from the house.

“When my husband went to check, the river had swelled and water was rising. We were not that alarmed because flooding is quite normal over here.

“It was only until we saw water start filling part of the house that we started to panic. My husband then told me to take our children out of the house, so I started grabbing whatever I could and left my husband behind to carry our belongings to higher spaces“ said the 32-year-old child theraphist for special children.

Rosemary has lived in Kampung Dabak, just about three minutes away from the Donggongon township, all her life.

She drove towards the main road, which is on slightly higher ground, to wait for her husband after her father-in-law came to rescue their children, five-year-old Belle, Theo (three) and Noel (two).

“When my husband came, the water was already chest-deep. He told me that water had filled the house. Our furniture was floating in the house, along with some blankets, pillows and clothes on top. The sofas are the reason why we have some of these items left,” she said.

Rosemary said they had to buy secondhand clothes for their children as there was nothing left at home.

“The refrigerator is out, I am hoping our washing machine works otherwise that would add up to our many expenses,” she said.

She added that they had just fixed their car a month ago, and that she is supposed to start radiotherapy treatment for her thyroid cancer at the Sabah Women and Children Hospital in Likas next month.

“I had a total thyroidectomy in January this year, and was diagnosed with cancer in February, but since I was still breastfeeding my youngest child, the radiotherapy was delayed.

“Budget is tight. This is, indeed, a very challenging time for us, but I am glad that we escaped unhurt in the flood,” she said.

Albert, 29, meanwhile, said that cleaning took longer than he thought, but helping hands from friends eased the burden.

“Usually it takes us about two days to clean up, but this time, it’s already the fourth day, and we’re still scrubbing floors and washing stuff.

“Just yesterday (July 3), I was fixing the floor as some of the wood washed away. It was like doing a jigsaw puzzle,” said Albert, who operates his own transport services business.

Both Rosemary and Albert are grateful for the help they are receiving, adding that some friends had donated their children’s clothes to them, while some had offered mattresses, among others.

“We accept all these donations, and will share with neighbours because we know they are in need of some items as well,” said Rosemary.

The floods, which were as deep as 2.4m according to some victims, hit several locations in Penampang, and was also experienced in a few other districts in Sabah following continuous rain on Sunday (June 30).