Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A community that faced the flood threat head on

A community that faced the flood threat head on

Nakhon Sawan is proving to be one of the best-prepared provinces in dealing with its flood problems - with government officials, authorities and residents all taking part in defending it against the threat of inundation.

The preparation started two months ago, utilising the Internet and social media.
In early August, Governor Chairote Meedaeng called a meeting with related agencies to discuss an "urgent agenda" preparing the province for the water run-off after the upper North was affected by the Nok-Ten storm.

Dykes 15 kilometres long were built along the Chao Phraya River - both permanent walls and temporary dykes formed with sandbags piled up to four metres high.

Government officials and local administration at every level then prepared equipment including pumps, flat-bottom boats and vital facilities. Sand and soil were stockpiled for ridges and temporary bridges.

The agencies warned people of possible flash floods or mudslides in risky areas and advised them on water drainage and logistics plans.

The province's website, www.NakhonSawan.go.th, has details and information related to the flood and high water situation and action that might be needed.

It includes maps of roads and run-off routes, flow charts and related links from other agencies such as the Royal Irrigation Department, the Meteorological Department, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency and even the municipality's own CCTV monitoring water levels.

Sirens and car horns are signals for residents of Nakhon Sawan city to evacuate to prepared centres - including the province's central stadium, the technical and vocational colleges, Nakhon Sawan school and Kiriwong Temple.

According to the plan, it would take only half an hour to evacuate the community as it is only 3 km away from the evacuation centres. The plan also reveals that the provincial central stadium is ready to accept patients from Pracharak Hospital as it has the best roof coverage.
In total, the five evacuation centres have room for 10,000 people.

On Facebook, Paknampo residents have set up a fanpage 24-Hour Update of the Nakhon Sawan Water Situation, with social media users contributing information. At 6.20pm yesterday, it had over 8,900 members.

Twitter users can put the tag #SawanFlood on messages while keeping others updated.
Video clips of Nakhon Sawan people joining hands to build dykes and dealing with their flood problems have been released. Nakhon Sawan Mayor Chittakasem Nirotethanarat, who joined the villagers and supported their activities, has been highly praised.

In the clip, Chittakasem receives flowers and a voice is heard, "Nayok [mayor] doesn't give up, we sellers are not giving up."

Although the preparation will not entirely prevent loss to the city area, the damage that has occurred, compared with the losses that could have been sustained, well demonstrates the success of the "Nakhon Sawan Model", the flood rehabilitation programme started last November. It stresses the value of good planning, preparation and cooperation.

Post a Comment