Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bangkok districts told to brace

City Hall agrees to open up canals for drainage

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has agreed to help drain northern runoff into the sea through the city's canals as parts of Don Muang and Laksi districts were declared flood-risk zones yesterday.
Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra last night issued a flood warning to residents in Thung Si Kan and Don Muang subdistricts in Don Muang district and Thung Song Hong subdistrict in Laksi district.

It is the second warning from the governor in addition to the first order made on Wednesday to seven other districts, but the previous warning was for people to relocate their belongings to high ground only.

Related: Panic grips eastern Bangkok
See also: Expressway parking angers motorists

He advised people in the three subdistricts to take shelter at Wat Donmuang, Prachautid, Wat Welu Wanaram, Bumrungrawiwanwittaya, Prempracha, and Phahon Yothin schools in Don Muang and Tungsonghong Witthaya, Bangkhen, Kehatungsonghong Witthaya, Wat Laksi and Kankahathasai schools in Laksi.

The governor said the second warning was in response to water overflowing along Khlong Prapa and leaks in barriers in Laksi.

The announcement came hours after City Hall and the goverment agreed to a plan to drain the northern runoff through Bangkok's canals.

MR Sukhumbhand said yesterday that all the flood gates in Bangkok had been opened to accommodate the government's flood management plan.

The sluice gate at Khlong 2 canal was opened by one metre to drain water from Pathum Thani's Nava Nakorn. At Thawee Wattana and Mahasawat canals, the sluice gates were opened by 80cm, he said.

Floodwater will be also drained from Raphiphat and Rangsit canals in Pathum Thani through Saen Saep, Prawet and Sam Rong canals of Bangkok and Samut Prakan into the Gulf of Thailand.

"But the BMA will need to think about the people who may be affected. We won't let the water in if we don't have management plans," MR Sukhumbhand said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that all the flood gates must be opened and regulated to direct the floodwater flow. Flood walls are only good enough to keep the floodwater from coming crashing in.

"The flood barriers can't stop the water, just slow it down. We need to regulate the opening and closing of flood gates to control water drainage," she said.

She also asked residents living along the canals to cooperate with the government's drainage efforts and not to panic if the water surges.

"The BMA has agreed to allow the drainage. The Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) will put its teams into position," she said.

By opening the floodgates, the government increases the risk of flooding in the capital.

But former Bangkok governor Bhichit Rattakul, said that it may instead cause water to surge onto road surfaces but that it won't flood the city.

"The drainage pattern may cause the water to surge in certain areas, but there is no need to panic. It is not flooding," he said.

Meanwhile, yesterday, a dispute arose between residents along Khlong Prapa canal at Sri Samarn intersection in Don Muang district.

Authorities were using a backhoe to build a dyke to block water from overflowing from the canal onto a street. Residents on the other side of the canal, fearing that the dyke would cause heavy flooding in their neighbourhood, took control of the backhoe. They used it to destroy the dyke, forcing water onto the road on the other side and away from their community.

Somsak Soonthornrawaphat, an expert from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said it seemed that the government was facing difficulties in making Bangkok's governor follow its flood management plan.

"It looks like Mr Sukhumbhand has absolute control over Bangkok's flood control. But, the more state authorities try to save the capital, the more people are suffering from the flood," he said.
Commuters walk along an embankment of sandbags near Rangsit Market which has been submerged. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
A woman takes her pet dogs along the flooded Rangsit-Pathum Thani road after rescuing them from her flooded home in Pathum Thani yesterday. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Foreign visitors at Chulalongkorn University cut holes in plastic seats to make portable toilets for flood victims. PATIPAT JANTHONG
A crane lowers rocks wrapped in wire mesh onto the flooded Asian Highway in Uthai district of Ayutthaya yesterday to slow the torrents of floodwater entering the town. SUNTHORN PONGPAO
An elderly man lies in an inflatable raft pulled by neighbour during the evacuation of Bang Bua Thong district of Nonthaburi. APICHART JINAKUL
Motorcyclists drive along a flooded road running parallel to the overflowing Khlong Prapa near Chaeng Watthana Road. CHUMPORN SANGVILERT
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