Storm Wutip may bring more misery

national September 29, 2013 00:00

By The Sunday Nation

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Flood-hit areas in the Northeast, and most of Bangkok likely to get more rain

The Weather Bureau warned yesterday of heavy rains in the Northeast tomorrow when tropical storm Wutip is expected to hit upper Vietnam, as parts of Thailand, notably Isaan, continue to reel under floods. 
The department also warned that people living in flood-risk areas in Central and Eastern Thailand, especially Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaew, Chanthaburi, Trat and Chachoengsao should brace for heavy rains and possible landslides during this period. 
According to the forecast, most of Bangkok, estimated at 80 per cent of the capital, will see rainfall.
In the meantime, the Royal Irrigation Department’s Water Analysis Centre reported yesterday that the country’s major reservoirs now contain 47,262 million cubic metres of water, about 67 per cent of their capacity. So, they could still hold another 22,800 million cubic metres of water. 
The centre also said reservoirs in the Central and Northeast continued to rise due to rain. It affirmed that the department would focus on managing water in reservoirs, taking into account the volume of rain while also aiming to store enough water over the next two months for the upcoming dry season. 
Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi told a national audience on the “Prime Minister Yingluck Government Meets the People” TV show yesterday there was only a slim chance of runoff from the North causing a repeat of the 2011 flood crisis in Bangkok. He said the capital would have no overall problem, except the city’s eastern side that may face minor flooding, provided there was no rain storm in the north of Bangkok in the next few days. 
He also believed the flood situation in Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani would improve in the next couple of days.
Yesterday morning, Prime Minister Yingluck visited a flood-hit area at Wat Bot in tambon Bang Krabeu in Pathum Thani’s Sam Khok district. 
Plodprasop, who chairs the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC), also urged the PM to instruct officials to tackle the upcoming storm Wutip. He warned that if the storm headed to Ubon Ratchathani, the situation there could worsen, as the province had taken in floodwater from Si Sa Ket and let it through to Prachin Buri. 
Thailand has had 1,245 millimetres of rainfall so far this year, 32 per cent lower than in 2011, Plodprasop said. He added that Ayutthaya’s Bang Ban district saw the Chao Phraya River rise by 1.5 metres beyond its banks while Angthong’s Pa Mok district saw a metre rise beyond its banks. Low-lying areas outside the flood-barrier zone on the left and right banks of the Chao Phraya would see floodwater 60cm to 1.5 metres deep, which was a normal situation.
During her visit, Yingluck also presided over a ceremony to present 360 boats for rescuing flood victims and took 30 flat-bottom boats and one communications vehicle from Honda’s Khiang Khang Thais Fund to pass onto the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department. She also watched a demonstration showing the use of rescue boats. 
She met and presented relief items to flood victims in the area on a boat trip on the Chao Phraya with Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII) director Royol Chitradon.
Yingluck said concerned agencies would meet this week to learn about the flooding and work out measures in advance for a worst-case scenario. She also assigned Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt to study the building of a water tunnel at Mahachai and Khlong Luang sluice gates, as the two places had high sand levels that blocked the waterway. A permanent tunnel would drain water faster, according to Royol. 
Royol said the east of Bangkok would not suffer severe flooding like in 2011 as it would be just be a transit point for floodwater.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also inspected flood prevention measures at the Khlong Rangsit sluice gates in Pathum Thani’s Muang district yesterday. He promised to talk to the government to provide 12 water pumps. Currently, eight water pumps have been deployed.
Meanwhile Ayutthaya Governor Wittaya Phiewpong said although flooding in the province was not as bad as in 2011, they wanted sluice gates in Bang Pakong and Bang Pu areas to be opened so that floodwater in Bangkok and upstream runoff in Ayutthaya could be alleviated. “Although we are a water-retaining area, we don’t want a prolonged flood,” he said.
Riverside residents in Pa Sak in Ayutthaya were urged to move their belongings higher after Pa Sak Cholsit Dam brimmed at 93 per cent capacity. Uthai Thani’s Muang district saw a barrier on the Tak Daed river bust, inundating some 20,000 rai of rice fields in tambon Nong Phai Baen and Noenm Lek.
In Prachin Buri, all seven districts were hit. Kabinburi district’s tambon Kabin was under three metres of water, while farmland and homes in tambon Ban Hoy, Koh Loy, Prachantakham as well as tambon Ban Tham in Sri Mahapho district were under two metres of water. Sri Mahapho saw 200 flood-hit villagers from tambon Tha Toom and Sri Mahapho continue a road-block  protest for the second day, calling for the opening of the Had Yang water-gate to drain water.
All five districts in Si Sa Ket have been submerged, including Muang district, with 1,850 residents evacuated to 12 shelters. In a ninth death, Sam Deepak, 49, drowned while fishing. 
In Phetchabun in the Upper Central region, 12 villages in tambon Ban Khok in Muang district suffered the “worst flood in 15 years”. The water level had been 1.5 metres since 5am yesterday, and affecting 2,000 homes.

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