Howling wind blows off roof of longhouse


SIBU: Residents of Rumah Jepon in Sungei Renan, about 8km from Kanowit town, are sending a distress call to the authorities after strong wind ripped off parts of the roof of their longhouse on Tuesday.

HELPLESS: Residents squat outside their roofless house.

The longhouse was rebuilt in 2008 as a single-storey terrace style house after the original longhouse was razed in a fire.

Longhouse chief Jepon Juing, 62, described the force of the wind at 4pm as the strongest he had ever seen.

“It looked like a twister, moving round and round, lifting heavy objects and howling angrily.

“We all ran for shelter.”

The incident occurred when adults were tending their fields, leaving only children, women and elderly folk at home.

Jepon said he was planting tamarind shoots when the wind struck.

He said after the wind died down, residents returned to see the roof of seven of the 12 families blown off.

“The blown away part is a stretch of over 100 feet long. We were panicky. We did not know what to do.

“I lodged a police report and later sought help from the District Office.”

He said the folks pooled their resources together to cover the opening with canvasses to protect themselves from the rain.

By 9pm, all things were in place, he said.

Jepon said policemen came twice to inspect the situation.

“The howling wind was frightening,” said Bernard Jarit, 42, who was tending his paddy field then.

He rushed home for his seven-year-old son and daughter.

“I grabbed my son and ran to the compound of the nearby school for shelter.”

Jepon’s daughter, Cheda, was in the toilet.

She also heard the frightening howling, which drew residents to the


Grandma Ngik Ngaga, 65, said she was dragged out by the others  but nearly fainted after knocking her head on the door in the commotion.

She managed to make it to safety with the others.

Another resident, Watson Richard, 26, said he was feeding cockerels behind the longhouse when he saw  banana trees and other trees being uprooted.

The residents described the wind as an unexplained phenomenon.

Not only had they never seen nature with such force, the howling wind sent chills down their spines.

“That’s not all,” said an elderly woman.

“It seemed to ‘attack’ our longhouse only.”

She said three other longhouses nearby were unaffected.

The 150 residents are in tears because this was the second time they met with misfortune after their longhouse was razed in a fire in September 2008.

With help from the authorities and public members, they had pooled their resources together to build a new home after the fire.

They moved in half a year after the fire, and now, after more than a year, strong wind ripped off the roof.

Jepon said he was returning to the District Office today (Thursday) with particulars of their longhouse and their residents so that aid would come fast.