Floods not as bad as 2011 crisis despite inundation: authorities

national October 13, 2017 01:00

By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

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Prominent expert says three incoming storms could wreak

ACADEMICS AND authorities are confident that this year’s flood situation would not be a repeat of the disastrous major floods of 2011, even as many provinces continued to be inundated and dams are at peak capacity.

Three key experts – the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), the Meteorological Department, and Sitang Pilailar from Water Resource Engineering Department at Kasetsart University – yesterday reassured people that the nation is not about to experience the extremes of 2011. 

Authorities have already prepared a flood mitigation plan, they said, and the water situation this year is totally different from 2011.

They spoke after prominent water expert Seree Supharatid warned that the flood situation this year would reach the same severity as the major flood of 2011, because three more storms are heading to Thailand to intensify the current flood situation and water retention measures are already at capacity.

RID director-general Somkiat Prajamwong also assured the public that this year’s flood situation will not be a repeat of 2011 and urged people not to panic.

The RID had already prepared flood mitigation plans and was working with relevant agencies, including the Meteorological Department, to keep updated in real-time and plan flood mitigation measures.

“The water situation right now is under control and people should not be too worried about this year’s flood,” Somkiat said.

The RID has been working closely with all relevant agencies to make sure that the flood situation remains under control, he said, and the department is also better prepared compared to 2011.

“The RID has allocated water retention areas on both sides of the Chao Phraya River, and we are also equipped with more water management tools and better information on the water situation and weather compared to 2011, so this year’s flood will not be as severe,” said Somkiat.

In 2011, all four major dams in the Chao Phraya River Basin were full with water, but this year only Khaew Noi Bamrung Dan Dam and Pasak Jolasid Dam that were full, while Bhumibol Dam and Sirikit Dam have room to store more water, he said. 

Somkiat also pointed to RID’s preparation for an unexpected storm. The department has lowered water levels in the reservoirs, for example. Confident in the amount of remaining room for future water, authorities have now stopped discharging water from Bhumibol Dam and Sirikit Dam to reduce the amount of water flowing into the Chao Phraya River Basin and relieve downstream flooding. 

Sitang also sees major differences between this year’s floods and 2011.

There are indications of additional storms heading toward Thailand, he conceded, “but we should be prepared, not panic”, she said. 

The Meteorological Department is convinced that “the situation will not be as bad as Seree thinks,” she added.

Local residents wade through floodwaters in front of Wat Suwanpradit as they move belongings to higher ground away from flash floods that hit at least five tambons in Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong district yesterday.

Moreover, Sitang said the current water levels and weather patterns are in line with historical trends and Thailand is receiving the normal amount of precipitation. In contrast, 2011 had heavier rainfall.

The Meteorological Department has issued a statement explaining that from yesterday to this coming Saturday there will be no storms in the Andaman Sea. From Sunday to next Tuesday, a tropical storm would approach North Vietnam. But a high-pressure influence from China would lessen the storm’s power and the storm would not affect Thailand directly.

Nevertheless, many provinces in Thailand were suffering from floods, especially provinces in the Chao Phraya River Basin and the Chi River Basin.

According to RID, there were flood reports in Chiang Mai, Payao, Yasothon, Roi Et, Chaiyaphum, Sisaket, Maha Sarakham, Ubon Ratchathani, Phetchabun, Chainat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, and Ayutthaya.

In Chiang Mai, tourists and residents had to flee to higher ground as the L

anna Resort and homes in Tambon Ban Pong in Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong district were hit by flash flooding from forest runoff early yesterday morning.

People woke at 4am amid flooding from the Mae Tha Chang River, which was swollen from runoff from the upstream Samoeng district, hitting five Hang Dong subdistricts, with Nong Kwai and Nam Phrae particularly affected.