SEVERAL northeastern provinces were hit by heavy rains and flooding yesterday as the Northeast braved downpours triggered by a tropical storm.
The Thai Meteorological Department said the storm, which has been named “Rai” and affected Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani yesterday evening, would weaken to become a tropical depression moving over the middle Northeast, the lower North and the upper Central area.
The department urged people in affected areas to expect severe conditions and follow its weather updates.
The Andaman Sea and upper Gulf of Thailand were roiled by three-metre waves so ships should proceed with caution and small boats keep ashore until next Monday, the department said.
In Buri Ram’s Pa Kham district, overnight rainfall and runoff from forests yesterday caused 50-centimetre flooding in two villages, damaging 40 homes as well as inundating hundreds of rai of rice fields, while a section of Highway No 348 and rural roads were also affected.
Residents of 10 riverside homes in Ban Nong Hua Moo in Si Sa Ket’s Muang district were forced to relocate from their flooded homes to a temporary municipality centre, where they were later joined by evacuees from homes along the Mul River and Samran Creek.
Anticipating further severe weather overnight, Ubon Ratchathani Governor Somsak Jantrakul yesterday morning instructed officials to prepare staff and equipment to aid residents in flood-hit areas, particularly in the at-risk districts of Phibun Mangsahan, Si Muang Mai, Sirindhorn, Na Chaluay, Nam Khun and Nam Yuen.
In Khon Kaen’s Muang district, Nakhon Khon Kaen Municipality deputy mayor Thawatchai Reunromsiri said 1,000 volunteers and a large stock of sandbags were prepared to handle flooding while water pumps had been installed at eight key locations to drain floodwater.
Kalasin’s Lam Pao Dam, now at 45 per cent of its full capacity of 1.98 billion cubic metres, reduced the volume of released water from 4.7 million cubic metres a day to 3.9 million to prevent flooding in downstream areas.
In the central province of Phichit, the provincial irrigation office opened sluice gates to the main irrigation waterway to prepare for anticipated heavy rainfall this week, while many downstream residents took the opportunity to fish. Farmers in Pho Prathap Chang district pre-emptively harvested rice to prevent crop damage.
In the North, Chiang Mai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office chief Pairin Limcharoen yesterday said a coordinating centre had already been set up to monitor rainfall and landslide emergencies while related agencies prepared staff and equipment to support operations.
Officials would consider evacuating residents living in areas receiving more than 90 millimetres of rainfall within a 24-hour period and a temporary shelter would be set up, he added.
In Mae Hong Son’s Muang district, continuous rainfall yesterday raised the water level in the Pai River to 2.3 metres, forcing Ban Pha Bong residents to move belongings and livestock to higher ground as a precaution.
In related news, a source reported that heavy rains yesterday morning caused 30-centimetre flooding at the Wellgrow Industrial Estate in Chachoengsao’s Bang Pakong district before spreading to nearby areas including the front of Tesco Lotus’s Bang Wua branch on Bang Na-Trat Road at the 40th and 41st kilometre markers.