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That one time a dragon caused a flood in Belaga in 1942

Different cultures around the world have attributed mythical creatures as the cause of meteorologic phenomenons or natural disasters like flood and earthquake.

For example, in Japanese mythology, the Namazu is a giant catfish that causes earthquakes with his tail.

Meanwhile, the thunderbird in Native American culture is believed to have the ability to produce thunderstorms and rain.

Here in Sarawak, there was one heavy flood which the locals believed had been caused by an angry dragon.

The Sarawak Gazette reported on a flood in Belaga which startes on Feb 21, 1942 and lasted for five days.

Apparently, the Kayans blamed the Kenyah Badeng whom they said tried to tie a dragon to a farm hut with rattan.

They said the dragon was about the size of an areca palm tree with a body resembling a snake with scales, horns and legs.

Somehow, the dragon managed to escape from its ties and wreaked vengeance on the people of Belaga by sending them the biggest flood they had ever experienced.

Belaga town in 2017.
Worst flood ever recorded in Belaga?

According to the gazette, to anyone who happened to be in Belaga at that time, the feeling was that the downpour of rain before and during the flood was enough to drive away people and dragons.

“The flood was actually caused by the heavy downpour of rain up to the Sungai Belaga and Balui at the same time and the Giam (rapids) obstructing the flow of an abnormally large volume of water.”

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The report continued, “Thoughthe flood was 15 feet high from the Kubu (fort) ground floor, many buildings on a lower ground level were submerged. Those who built of lighter materials were floated away as soon the flood reached the roof top. It was strangely amusing to see the newly erected Government Dispensary moved away like a tortoise.”

Some of the village houses were anchored to the nearby trees using rattan while a few Kayan longhouses washed away by flood like steamships with cats and dogs still inside.

The shophouses in Belaga bazaar were reported to still be more or less intact but did not escape some damage.

Before this, other floods that had been officially recorded in Belaga took place in Jan 28, 1934 (estimated at 8 feet high) and Mar 24, 1887 (estimated at 4 feet).

However, it is unsure if these floods were also caused by an angry dragon.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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