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Oct 19 2011

Bangkok Flooding: The Worst is Not Over

 

"Today I will frankly tell you the truth. I have left no stone unturned in this crisis but I cannot solve it alone. I need cooperation from all sides," Ms Yingluck said on Wednesday. (ABC News)

bangkok flood prediction

After this past weekend, Thailand officials seemed to be indicating that they thought the worst of the flooding was over but that does not appear to be the case. In the image above from the Thailand Flood Monitoring System, you see the inundated areas in blue and the predicted floods in red, but it looks like the inundation map is a day or two old and that the flooding is actually worse now. On top of that, there is political infighting at the national level which only seems to be causing confusion and more distrust. That absolutely cannot be helpful in saving lives as this situation worsens.

Some critics have accused the government of playing down the danger in order to shield its image from bad news. At the same time, several ministers and officials have sprung into action, announcing their own sometimes conflicting directives and warnings.

“Rush to Don Muang immediately!” one government minister announced last Thursday, referring to an evacuation center. “The government cannot tell how many hours are left.”

A few minutes later another minister stepped in to rescind the warning.

The Bangkok governor, Mr. Sukhumbhand, has tried to seize the moral high ground, asserting that he has no political ambitions and only wants to protect his constituents.

“Please listen to me and me alone,” he said last Thursday. “I will say when we should evacuate. Please believe me and only me. Don’t believe others.” (NY Times)

Those are not the kinds of things you want to hear in the middle of a real crisis and it rings of some of the problems and politics that occurred when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.

bangkok flooding in store

The picture above struck me in two ways. First, it cracked me up! I love their resiliency as this shop owner just improvises and keeps her store open! She still even has customers for that matter! Second, there are reasons that you would not see this situation here in America: the floods are probably getting worse and you are running out of time to safely escape, and we Americans would be too busy at home trying to protect all of our possessions that many of these folks don’t even have! When Minot flooded earlier this year and evacuations were ordered, people had cars or were likely helped with transportation. Even then, there were over 10,000 folks being evacuated and significant traffic. Now try to fathom a city of 9.7 million people, most of whom with no vehicles and many at a poverty level, trying to evacuate! Where are most of these residents going to go? In most places, the flooding might only barely inundate but what about the sewage issues? It has to simply be a nightmare, but a nightmare that most of the actual people in the city are oblivious to.

An adviser to the country’s National Disaster Warning Centre, Admiral Kohlak Charoenruk, says the floods should be allowed to flow through Bangkok.

"If government keeps blocking water it will cause epidemic diseases and a humanitarian disaster. The government needs to release water into the sea as soon as possible," he said. (ABC News)

 

Hopefully the flooding does not get much worse, but it’s difficult to find good information and data; no outcome would surprise me and that’s scary.

Thailand Flooding Resources

Google Crisis Response: Thailand Floods 2011

Thailand Flood Monitoring System

Thailand Public Health Ministry

Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency of Thailand

4 pings

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