Floods not as bad as 2011 cri­sis de­spite in­un­da­tion: au­thor­i­ties

PROM­I­NENT EX­PERT SAYS THREE IN­COM­ING STORMS COULD WREAK SIM­I­LAR CATAS­TRO­PHE

The Nation - - THAILAND | ASEAN PLUS - PRATCH RUJIVANAROM

ACA­DEMICS AND au­thor­i­ties are con­fi­dent that this year’s flood sit­u­a­tion would not be a re­peat of the dis­as­trous ma­jor floods of 2011, even as many prov­inces con­tin­ued to be in­un­dated and dams are at peak ca­pac­ity.

Three key ex­perts – the Royal Ir­ri­ga­tion Depart­ment (RID), the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment, and Si­tang Pi­lailar from Wa­ter Re­source Engi­neer­ing Depart­ment at Kaset­sart Univer­sity – yes­ter­day re­as­sured peo­ple that the na­tion is not about to ex­pe­ri­ence the ex­tremes of 2011.

Au­thor­i­ties have al­ready pre­pared a flood mit­i­ga­tion plan, they said, and the wa­ter sit­u­a­tion this year is to­tally dif­fer­ent from 2011.

They spoke after prom­i­nent wa­ter ex­pert Seree Supharatid warned that the flood sit­u­a­tion this year would reach the same sever­ity as the ma­jor flood of 2011, be­cause three more storms are head­ing to Thai­land to in­ten­sify the cur­rent flood sit­u­a­tion and wa­ter re­ten­tion mea­sures are al­ready at ca­pac­ity.

RID di­rec­tor- gen­eral Somkiat Pra­jam­wong also as­sured the public that this year’s flood sit­u­a­tion will not be a re­peat of 2011 and urged peo­ple not to panic.

The RID had al­ready pre­pared flood mit­i­ga­tion plans and was work­ing with rel­e­vant agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment, to keep up­dated in real-time and plan flood mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures.

“The wa­ter sit­u­a­tion right now is un­der con­trol and peo­ple should not be too wor­ried about this year’s flood,” Somkiat said.

The RID has been work­ing closely with all rel­e­vant agen­cies to make sure that the flood sit­u­a­tion re­mains un­der con­trol, he said, and the depart­ment is also bet­ter pre­pared com­pared to 2011.

“The RID has al­lo­cated wa­ter re­ten­tion ar­eas on both sides of the Chao Phraya River, and we are also equipped with more wa­ter man­age­ment tools and bet­ter information on the wa­ter sit­u­a­tion and weather com­pared to 2011, so this year’s flood will not be as se­vere,” said Somkiat.

In 2011, all four ma­jor dams in the Chao Phraya River Basin were full with wa­ter, but this year only Khaew Noi Bam­rung Dan Dam and Pasak Jo­lasid Dam that were full, while Bhu­mi­bol Dam and Sirikit Dam have room to store more wa­ter, he said.

Somkiat also pointed to RID’s prepa­ra­tion for an un­ex­pected storm. The depart­ment has low­ered wa­ter lev­els in the reser­voirs, for ex­am­ple. Con­fi­dent in the amount of re­main­ing room for fu­ture wa­ter, au­thor­i­ties have now stopped dis­charg­ing wa­ter from Bhu­mi­bol Dam and Sirikit Dam to re­duce the amount of wa­ter flow­ing into the Chao Phraya River Basin and re­lieve down­stream flood­ing.

Si­tang also sees ma­jor dif­fer­ences be­tween this year’s floods and 2011.

There are in­di­ca­tions of ad­di­tional storms head­ing to­ward Thai­land, he con­ceded, “but we should be pre­pared, not panic”, she said.

The Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment is con­vinced that “the sit­u­a­tion will not be as bad as Seree thinks,” she added.

More­over, Si­tang said the cur­rent wa­ter lev­els and weather pat­terns are in line with his­tor­i­cal trends and Thai­land is re­ceiv­ing the nor­mal amount of pre­cip­i­ta­tion. In con­trast, 2011 had heav­ier rain­fall.

The Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment has is­sued a state­ment ex­plain­ing that from yes­ter­day to this com­ing Satur­day there will be no storms in the An­daman Sea. From Sun­day to next Tues­day, a trop­i­cal storm would ap­proach North Viet­nam. But a high­pres­sure in­flu­ence from China would lessen the storm’s power and the storm would not af­fect Thai­land di­rectly.

Nev­er­the­less, many prov­inces in Thai­land were suf­fer­ing from floods, es­pe­cially prov­inces in the Chao Phraya River Basin and the Chi River Basin.

Ac­cord­ing to RID, there were flood re­ports in Chi­ang Mai, Payao, Ya­sothon, Roi Et, Chaiya­phum, Sisaket, Maha Sarakham, Ubon Ratchathani, Phetch­abun, Chainat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, and Ayut­thaya.

In Chi­ang Mai, tourists and res­i­dents had to flee to higher ground as the Lanna Re­sort and homes in Tam­bon Ban Pong in Chi­ang Mai’s Hang Dong district were hit by flash flood­ing from for­est runoff early yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Peo­ple woke at 4am amid flood­ing from the Mae Tha Chang River, which was swollen from runoff from the up­stream Samo­eng district, hit­ting five Hang Dong sub­dis­tricts, with Nong Kwai and Nam Phrae par­tic­u­larly af­fected.

Lo­cal res­i­dents wade through flood­wa­ters in front of Wat Suwan­pra­dit as they move be­long­ings to higher ground away from flash floods that hit at least five tam­bons in Chi­ang Mai’s Hang Dong district yes­ter­day.

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