The 2021 year-end flood which affected many areas nationwide surpassed all previous year’s floods within Malaysia. These has financial implications on the lives of our fellow Malaysians. For those affected, here are some ideas on how to pick up the pieces and build resilience moving forward.
1. After the flood – restarting your life
Consider the immediate aids you can leverage on to restart your life and get back on track. These can come in the form of financial, food, or accommodation aid, life essentials such as clothes and household items, or even transport arrangements for stranded individuals.
2. Get your mental health in check
Be sure to stabilise your frame of mind and check your stress level. There are a number of free services and apps such as:
- Talian KASIH (8am – 5pm daily 15999, WhatsApp 019-261 5999)
- Naluri (03-8408 1748, 24 hours, English, Malay and Mandarin)
- Selangkah – Selangor Mental Sihat (SEHAT)
- MySejahtera (Digital Health > Minda Sihat)
3. Gauge your financial situation
Once more urgent and pressing matters are taken care of, you can now take stock of your current financial situation. Ask yourself:
- What are my losses?
- What are my family incomes?
- What are my monthly commitments?
- What are my debts?
- What is the position of my current investments and savings?
- What is my protection coverage for my life and assets (takaful/insurance for personal and workplace)?
These questions will help you paint a picture of your financial situation and will quickly bring up areas of concern (if any) which you can focus on as you look to recover.
4. Salvaging assets from flood damage
The next step is to consider your current assets. Firstly, assess damage to items within your household. Check if you have household insurance and if yes, whether it covers special perils or not.
Assess damage to your vehicles, and be sure not to start them as the electronic system will short-circuit; get tow trucks to haul it to a workshop. Depending on the make of your car, the repair cost may range from RM4,000 to RM10,000.
Other things to consider:
- If you are working from home, is your laptop and handphone provided by your company?
- Do you need to report up or make a police report?
- Are your important documents destroyed?
- Do you need to replace NRIC/birth and marriage/divorce certificates at the Registration Department, driving licence and road tax at the Road Transport Department (JPJ), and school certificates from the respective schools?
5. Stay safe and healthy
In such trying times, keeping healthy may be the last thing on your mind but it is very important that you do your best to follow Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) by getting help from NGOs and volunteers for masks and hand sanitisers.
Be wary of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery and use water-purifying tablets if you are unsure if the water is safe for drinking or you do not have access to clean water. Follow the dilution instructions that comes with the tablets.
**6. Rebuild your financial status **
The information in point (2) above is important to guide you on your next steps. You may seek help from:
- Agensi Kauseling & Pengurusan Kredit
- A licensed financial planner at SmartFinance.my where you can talk to an expert
- Be on the lookout for scammers; they are heartless and only want your money. Only accept help from reliable sources. When in doubt, err on the side of caution!
7. Preparing for a future flood
The financial challenges you face today is the basis of your emergency fund for the future. Therefore, it is crucial to start building one when you can. Transfer some of the risks to your protection coverage and tap into your network of friends or relatives that you and your family can stay with.
Flood-proof your home and/or prepare your evacuation SOP and equipment (torch lights, inflatable boats, dry food, bottled water, charged power banks, clothes, blankets and toiletries in waterproof bags, disposable wares and bags). Be constantly alert of your surroundings. Chances are, it may be difficult to sell your home and move to another so you may need to continue staying in your current place.
Review how you place your furniture and appliances. Some homes put them on platforms that can be jacked up to desired heights (granted, if water level too high, it can render platforms useless). Store critical items in waterproof boxes when the rainy season approaches. It may also be prudent to check if you can convert your rooftop to an emergency accommodation equipped with the evacuation items listed above?
My heart goes out to all flood victims. We are fortunate there are volunteers and NGOs that we can contribute to, who will organise, mobilise and distribute contributions to as many victims as they can. I hope the above is useful to those affected. May you have a respite from your situation and the strength to ride through this tough times.
This article is contributed by Linnet Lee, CEO of the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM).