October 11, 2013 00:00 By Pongphon Sarnsamak
Though 29 provinces remain inundated, officials say the level is still at Category 2
Handling the flood situation in the provinces is being left up to the provincial authorities because it still falls under the government-set Category 2. It is only when the situation hits Category 4, that the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC) will step in.
Meanwhile, the number of flood-related deaths rose to 37 as 29 provinces remained under water as of press time yesterday, with Sa Kaew, Prachin Buri and Chachoengsao being the hardest-hit.
Royol Chitradon, a WFMC member, said the floods in several provinces were currently being managed according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act. The Act classifies flood disasters in four categories – 1 being the mildest and 4 the worst.
District and provincial authorities handle the first two levels, while joint-provincial and state authorities control the last two levels. The state authority to handle Category 4 floods is the WFMC, he explained.
The provincial governor and the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DPMD) officials are now managing the situation in Prachin Buri, Royol said.
However, he explained, sometimes state agencies need to step in, like flooding in the Central region needs to be controlled by the Royal Irrigation Department as more than 60 per cent of the region is irrigated area.
“The flood situation in the Central region is okay and the level of floodwaters in the Northeast is dropping,” he said. “We hope the floods in the East will recede if there are no more storms.”
Royol, also director of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, said his agency was now closely monitoring the upcoming Nari storm to see if it would have an impact on the East of Thailand. It may not affect the region if it weakens after arriving in Vietnam.
An informed source said Prachin Buri’s Muang Prachin Buri, Prachantakham, Sri Maha Pho, Sri Mahosote and Ban Sang districts continued to suffer from rising floods as of press time. The source quoted DPMD officials as saying some areas of Kabin Buri district were suffering from power cuts and many places were under up to 2.5 to 3.5 metres of water. Also there was no drainage because Bang Pakong River, which Prachin Buri River runs into, was brimming over.
DPMD chief Chatchai Promlert said yesterday that from September 17, floods had hit 41 provinces affecting 3,496,630 people, damaging 20,542 homes and submerging 3,254,417 rai of farmland. So far, 37 deaths have been reported. Though the waters have subsided in 12 provinces, 29 still remain submerged with as many as 1,792,519 people being affected, Chatchai said.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) deputy city clerk Sanya Cheenimit warned residents, particularly those living outside the city’s flood barrier zone, of rising water levels in the Chao Phraya River due to seasonal seawater inflows from October 15-17.
Inspecting Bangkok Noi’s Santichon Songkhro Community and the 3.5-meter-high flood barrier along Chao Phraya River, Sanya said the 400-family community was flooded on Tuesday because water had flowed through the 500-metre-long unfinished section.
He added that the city would find a new contractor to finish the job. For now, BMA has installed water pumps and is clearing the garbage to ensure quick water drainage, he added.
Sanya said the eastern area of Bangkok was less likely to be flooded now because runoffs from the North had stabilised, while dams were releasing less water and it had had stopped raining.
Meanwhile, the Stop Global Warming Association (SGWA) filed a lawsuit with the Central Administrative Court yesterday demanding an injunction suspending the government’s public forum on the Bt350-billion water- and flood-management scheme. SGWA president Srisuwan Janya said the forums, held from October 15 to December 6, would only involve 36 provinces and that 800 to 2,000 people were invited from each province to participate, when in reality, the 2011 floods actually affected over a million people in 65 provinces.