Author Topic: Nerves tighten as rains loom  (Read 472 times)

Offline thaiga

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Nerves tighten as rains loom
« on: June 23, 2012, 03:06:10 PM »
Communities are battening down for a recurrence of the 2011 flood disaster

Nervously watching the skies, the residents of Bangkok and surrounding provinces are living in fear and trepidation as the next rainy season starts to darken their horizon.

Will the city's outer districts be flooded again? Will there be a repeat of the worst natural disaster in its recorded history?

The scenes and the hardships of last year's floods remain vivid in their minds. So awesome and all-encompassing was the inundation that many residents have not bothered to carry out more than minor repairs to their homes as they pessimistically expect more of the same this year.

There is no sense of assuredness in their minds despite the government promising there will be no repeat of last year's flooding and that control and prevention measures are in progress. There is little confidence in the government.

Many communities and residents have taken it upon themselves to prepare for flooding instead of waiting for the state to act.

Natchapon Koedkasem, chairman of Lat Krabang community council, said the council has set up a flood coordination centre. Its job is to distribute information and relief supplies to the villagers should floodwaters rip through the district again.

The centre will also help to evacuate anyone trapped by floods or who wants to leave as the waters rise, he said.

Sutapot temple, which will be used as an evacuation centre for children and the elderly, has already stockpiled food and drink for around 300 evacuees, Mr Natchapon said.

The council has also set up five work crews to monitor water levels in major canals in the district. Water level data will be sent to King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang for analysis and to assess whether a flood warning should be issued.

"We are using all means possible to limit the impact of flooding. Every year there are floods and we are trying to find ways to live with it or to mitigate the impact," he said.

The success of flood management at the community level, however, largely depends on concise and current information about the flood situation from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

Any communication gap between local communities and City Hall could prove costly to a community's flood management plans, Mr Natchapon said.

Pannee Mahamad, a 47-year-old resident of Klong Sam Wa district, said her family suffered so much from last year's floods that she still has not been able to complete repairs to her house.

Swirling, debris-filled water had badly damaged the first floor of her two-storey house.

"I am still busy with repairing my house. If the floods come again, I don't know what I will do," Ms Pannee said.

"Officials have said there will be less water than last year, so I feel a little bit of relief."

In preparation for another inundation, Ms Pannee has hired workers to raise her house by about 20 centimetres.

She is not certain this will be enough to safeguard her house and if it is swamped again, she will just have to accept it.

There are 10 people living in the house. During last year's floods, the family stayed close together to help each other to survive the toughest experience of their lives.

Kriangkrai Phuraya, a 47-year-old reporter at Thai Rath newspaper, said he will apply the same measures he used last year if another disaster happens this year.

Mr Kriangkrai lives in Prueklada housing estate in Nonthaburi province. The estate is sited in an area that was badly hit by the floods, although the residents there managed to prevent water from entering it.

"We have bought 21 water pumps and are prepared to rent another 20 machines from farmers. [Last year] we pumped out water around the clock and we were safe in the end," he said.

There are 450 households in the estate and each has contributed money for flood prevention. The residents have also set up volunteer groups to take turns to run the water pumping station, Mr Kriangkrai said.

He does not believe the neighbourhood will be flooded again this year as a bypass canal will be dug to channel excess water from Pathum Thani to the Tha Chin River in Nakhon Pathom.

The new canal should help to reduce the amount of water entering Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong and Bang Yai districts, he said.

Don Muang resident Kunlanit Pratookaew, 67, said her family decided to buy an apartment in a flood-free zone after last year's floods.

"We need to have a second home in case of an emergency such as another major deluge," she said.

Ms Kunlanit said most of her family's belongings at the Don Muang house remain packed up and kept on the upper floor.

"The items are still upstairs so that we will not have to move them again if floods hit us this year," she said.

Ms Kunlanit demanded the government and the BMA clean out the sewers in the Don Muang area as sand is clogging them up.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sandbags were used to block the floodwater in Don Muang last year and a lot of the sand has been washed down into the sewers.

"The BMA staff have only cleaned up water drainage pipes on the main roads, while the secondary roads are left unattended," she said.
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