As the people of Penang cleaned up after a freak storm on Tuesday, residents at this fishing village felt the wrath of tidal waves across a one-kilometre stretch of coastline yesterday. The strong winds began at 10pm and broke into a storm at midnight. The villagers, who earn their living as traditional fishermen, had barely recovered their losses after the last floods and now had to put up with another disaster. One of the victims had depleted her savings rebuilding her kitchen after it was washed away in floods in December last year. Since wood is expensive, she made do with recycled wooden planks, taking three months to reconstruct the cubicle-sized kitchen and replace the gas stove, crockery and utensils. In the blink of an eye, her kitchen was gone once again. She was one of 30 families of Kampung Orang Asli Pontian Besar, who escaped by the skin of their teeth when the waves pummelled their homes. Her house was on stilts facing the Straits of Malacca. A decade ago their houses were not built on stilts and the village was bordered by mangrove swamps. In the past eight years, erosion has caused the entire swamp to disappear and only late last year the Drainage and Irrigation Department built a barrier to curb the erosion. "Without the swamp, our houses are directly facing the sea and there is nothing to protect us." The tidal wave struck during low-tide, which was a STRANGE PHENOMENON. "It was unexpected."