Oct 16-18 critical for capital

national October 07, 2011 00:00

By The Nation

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Wider and worse levels of flooding in store as huge volumes of water head towards provinces



Residents of many provinces face imminent flooding – or the worsening of existing flooding – as massive amounts of water move towards their areas from parts further north. The run-off water is set to reach Bangkok between October 16 and 18, which is also the high-tide period.

“Floods will hit the capital for sure. It’s just a question of where,” Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute director Dr Royol Chitradon said yesterday.

Water management and drainage capacity would determine how serious the situation would be, he said.

According to the 24/7 Emergency Operations Centre for Floods, Storms and Landslides, pushing water out to sea will get much more difficult later this month because the seawater level is about to rise. The centre’s deputy director, Wiboon Sa-nguanpong, said that by the time the huge amount of water being released from the Bhumibol and Pasak Jolasid dams reaches the lower Central region late next week, the high-tide period will have already begun.

“Overflowing [of rivers] will likely worsen,” said Wiboon, who also heads the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

Located in Lop Buri, the Pasak Jolasid Dam has been holding water at 136 per cent of its normal storage level. As of press time, it was releasing 950 cubic metres of water per second.

“During the next one or two days, it will be raining too. In fact, it looks set to pour down in many provinces in the Central region,” Wiboon said.

Located in Tak, Bhumibol Dam has reached 98 per cent of its capacity and is now releasing water, forcing people living downstream to struggle with flooding. In Ban Tak district, where floodwaters are about one metre deep, people in 42 villages have had to travel around by boat.

“This is the worst flooding in 52 years. It’s the worst since Bhumibol Dam was constructed,” Ban Tak district chief Thanin Wichitrakoon said. He believed the floods would continue for a few more days, as the dam had been forced to release water.

Elsewhere, residents of many provinces were bracing for more serious floods as run-off water from the upper part of the country raced towards their areas.

Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut said that next Thursday or Friday, water would be flowing down the Chao Phraya River in Nakhon Sawan at a rate of between 4,500 and 5,500 cubic metres per second. The sheer scale of the water-flow rate means that more flooding was likely for those living along the river, he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pipatchau Paiboon said the governor of Nakhon Sawan had already been instructed to prepare residents for evacuation.

“Flooding will spread further in riverside provinces, starting with Nakhon Sawan and followed by Chai Nat,” Theera said. To date, flooding has hit 28 provinces and affected more than 2.6 million people. The disaster has killed 244 people and left three missing. It is estimated that floods have already ravaged 7.5 million rai of farmland. As many as 182 roads are impassable due to deep floodwater levels.

Floods have left 1,215 factories submerged, affecting more than 41,000 workers. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday described the situation as “critical” and said she was quite worried about the upcoming storms. Royal Irrigation Department director-general Chalit Damrongsak, said the water volume is much larger than during last year’s flooding.

Yingluck said that in flood-marooned areas, the urgent task was to deliver food. She instructed government agencies to co-ordinate with both private and public-sector organisations in their flood-relief operations.

Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee urged individuals and private firms to make their boats and vessels available for volunteer operations to push water out to sea.

“To join this programme, please call 1313,” he said.

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