As the impending deluge looms across Thailand’s picturesque landscapes, the kindly officials at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration stand guard. Armed with 1.5 million little soldiers – not of war, but of preservation, in the form of sandbags – they gear up to shield Bangkok from the expanding belly of the Chao Phraya River. The Chao Phraya Dam, a usually mild-mannered guardian of the waterway, has in recent times had to unleash a greater volume of water owing to a heightened inflow from above – a product of the skies’ enthusiastic weeping across the city’s domains. Surat Charoenchaisakul, the diligent watchman of city drainage and sewerage, assures the citizens that eyes are on the different tributaries, the likes of Bangkok Noi, Maha Sawat and the Phra Khanong canals.
The lifesaving sandbags stand ready to be deployed by mid-October, their mission to subdue the swelling waters. Avid avatars of help cater to the cautious residents via a variety of accessible platforms, expertly managed by the BMA. These include their dedicated websites and social media accounts as well as a mobile application specifically designed to arm users with prompt flood warnings.
The meteorologists prophesy that the torrential downpour will persist until the week’s end, threatening the diverse northern, central and southern terrain of the country. As such, the water pressure at the Chao Phraya Dam is likely to surge between 1,350 and 1,750 cubic metres per second (m³/s). The concerned Directorate of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, acting as the gatekeeper to dire circumstances, has been prompt to alert local agencies, urging them to employ the protective power of sandbags along the river’s rim. It further advises residents to stay tuned to flood-related bulletins and assures them of ready assistance via its 1784 hotline and the official LINE account, @3384DDPM.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Somsak Thepsutin, on his recent visit to the flood-stricken Sukhothai, expressed deep concerns. The Yom River’s escalating temper worries him especially since it lacks an effective buffer, a dam, usually in place to check overflow. Sukhothai, already baring the brunt of burgeoning water levels from the northern provinces of Kamphaeng Phet, Phayao and Phrae, could potentially endure a twofold impact of its existing predicament, warns Mr Somsak. He disclosed how an overwhelming 100,000 rai of farmland and 4,000 households have already been subject to the wrath of these floods.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, chaired a discussion on the urgent matter at a cabinet meeting. The representatives from each flood-affected constituency were briefed to survey their respective areas and evaluate just compensation suitable for the victims, particularly for the distressed agrarian community. Mr Srettha also resolved to personally look into the situation in Ubon Ratchathani, which is predicted to confront severe flooding down the line. He recalls with a tinge of amazement and apprehension, the city’s heroic endurance of prolonged flooding last year, which had unfortunately caused immense damage to their agricultural terrain.