Ex-KL mayor’s eatery, volunteers keep hope for Hulu Langat flood victims afloat

Former Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail is no stranger when it comes to rolling up his sleeves and jumping in when faced with adversity.

To help out those in Hulu Langat, who had been hit hard when floods swept through the area last weekend, Ahmad Fuad converted part of his restaurant – Terra Pong – in Batu 18, Hulu Langat, into an aid transit centre.

This nerve centre for relief efforts in Hulu Langat has been in operation for more than a week.

It functions as a transit point for those wanting to contribute food, clothing, cleaning equipment and even gas cylinders to flood victims, especially in Sungai Lui, Kampung Jawa, and Batu 18.

“My friend Hisyam Ismail, a local business owner and his wife approached me with the idea. He said he was looking for a place to gather and store items like food and other basic necessities,” Ahmad Fuad told Twentytwo13.

“I wanted to help and offered my restaurant, but I did not expect it to be this big. This is all due to the selfless volunteers who are doing so much for the local community,” he said.

Volunteers, comprising local residents, university students (from the International Islamic University Malaysia and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia), food delivery riders, and his staff at the restaurant are working tirelessly round the clock to ensure those affected by the devastation are getting the help they need.

“The centre is basically run by the volunteers, who have put their work and lives on hold to help those in need,” said Ahmad Fuad, who was Kuala Lumpur mayor from 2008 until 2012.

Ahmad Fuad’s restaurant was also affected by the floods, but the impact was manageable, thanks to a retention pond and a strong rubble wall. However, business has been affected as access into the area has been cut off.

“Although I have seen floods in this area since 2002, this is the worst ever. We don’t have anything else to offer the villagers but this space (the restaurant), and to cook for the people.

Terra Pong has also been dishing out 200 packets of hot meals daily for those affected. Food is sent out, either for lunch, or dinner.

“We plan to continue cooking for the victims, and we will continue doing so for a period of up to two weeks, to a month,” Ahmad Fuad said, adding that some of his friends had also been sending food to the centre.

“We have been running this place for more than a week now, and are overwhelmed by the show of solidarity by people from all walks of life. The volunteers, especially the delivery riders and the villagers themselves … They are the real heroes.”

Ahmad Fuad, who once served as housing and local government ministry secretary-general, said his previous experience taught him that help can be slow to arrive in a disaster. He was touched to see so many people coming in to help.

He said volunteers are the backbone of any operation, and were essential in ensuring that the centre remained operational. He added good Samaritans had sent cleaning equipment, but manpower is needed for the clean-up process.

“It can take around 40 people just to clean up one house. It’s not easy cleaning mud from homes. It takes a lot of effort and manpower is what we need right now,” he said, adding that Terra Pong is also helping to coordinate cleaning up efforts for homes that have been hit during the floods.

“The state government has gazetted Hulu Langat as a recreational centre. But damage from the floods is severe. Coupled with Covid-19, it has been very difficult for the locals here to sustain their livelihoods. There’s a lot to be done, but together, we can rise again,” Ahmad Fuad said.

Those who wish to contribute or volunteer at the Terra Pong aid transit centre can contact Emma at +6011-1074 1274 or Wahida at +6012-693 2522.

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