Officials assure locals they will get timely warnings
MORE RAINFALL has been predicted for already inundated swathes of the Northeast, while experts have urged authorities to issue immediate warnings to the public via all available channels if more flooding is possible.
Local disaster prevention and mitigation officials reassured residents that they have already prepared for heavy rain and further inundation. They insisted that people would be informed through real-time announcements via community broadcasting systems and social media.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department yesterday issued alerts to local authorities on the risks of flash floods, overflowing rivers and mudslides in the North, Northeast, East and Southwest as torrential rain is expected from today to Sunday.
The warning triggered widespread fear of more flooding in submerged areas in the upper Northeast and left people worried about the warning system before the floodwaters rise.
Hannarong Yaowalers, chairman of the Thai-Water Partnership, said it was highly likely that there would be more flooding in the Northeast because the area was already soaked.
However, he was more concerned about the warning system, as the official warning statement was still too hard for people to understand and was not widely distributed.
“I noticed that the statement from the authorities is just a general forecast for the areas which will have heavy rain, but it does not specify the situation in detail, as a result people cannot prepare for the disaster,” he said.
Local authorities should summarise the warning statement into a practical disaster preparation plan for their community so that people can understand how big the risk of the coming disaster is and allow them to gear up for what’s to come, he said.
Wichan Taenghin, head of the Kalasin Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office, said that the authorities are ready for more downpours this weekend and that local people would get an early warning if there were any risk of flooding.
“The Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office has already prepared all the vehicles and equipment to help people from the coming flood.
“We are also working closely with all agencies such as Irrigation Department and local authorities to exchange information and prepare a flood mitigation plan,” he said. “So, people do not have to worry as they will get early warning and real-time updates on the water situation on their local media.”
The warning will get to everyone soon enough to let them move their belongings to higher ground and evacuate to a safe area.
“We have close cooperation with the Irrigation Department and we have a meeting with them every morning, so we have updated information about the water level in reservoirs and the river, which lets us know the possible flood risk and warn people in time,” he said.
For the flood situation in the Northeast, Hannarong cautioned that more flooding was inevitable because waterways cannot take on more water, so agencies should work together and allocate some areas as flood retention ponds to reduce the severity of the flood.
“It is very important that authorities provide full and updated information to people, so they can avoid heavy damage to their property and risk to their safety,” he added.
According to the statement, the Northeast provinces of Nong Bua, Lamphun, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Udon Thani, Sakhon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Kalasin, Yasothon, Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani were warned about possible flash floods.