In the Nadi district of Prachin Buri province, an unexpected occurrence has taken place. Continuous rainfall has led to flooding in the wildlife corridor tunnels situated under Highway 304. Consequently, the twin tunnels along with a major section of the highway were forced to close on Thursday morning. This is a key road, pivotal in connecting the lower Northeast and the East — a vital vein in the body of our transportation system.
Breaking down the facts, the assistant district chief, Sonthaya Fueangcharas, reported floodwaters ranging from 30 to 50 centimetres in depth within an 80-metre segment of the tunnels. More worryingly, the water level on the highway itself was estimated to be between 40 and 50 centimetres deep. Not chancing any risk, Sonthaya placed orders to close both the tunnels and the adjoining Nadi-Nakhon Ratchasima segment of Highway 304.
By late Thursday morning, the situation worsened in the tunnels, with the peak water level reaching about 1.50 metres. Fortunately, by 1.30pm, the water had subsided to around 20-30 centimetres, permitting local officials to reopen the tunnels to traffic while keeping a close watch over developments on site. As an additional safety measure, the power supply in the tunnels was disconnected to prevent the risk of hazardous short circuits.
What makes these 250-metre-long tunnels stand out is their strategic location. They run beneath a wildlife corridor that serves as a significant linkage between two of the region’s natural World Heritage sites, the Khao Yai and Thap Lan national parks.
The chief of Thap Lan National Park, Prawatsart Chanthep, explained that the flooding in the tunnels and various areas in Nadi was due to a clutch of heavily rainy days. Local canals were overfilled and as a result, five villages in tambon Buphram of Nadi experienced flooding. Even the Ban Thap Lan school within the district didn’t remain unaffected and had to cease operations on Thursday as a result of the flooding.
This flooding event serves as a stark reminder of the great power nature holds and the resulting disruptions that unforeseen circumstances can bring. Despite this, local officials responded promptly, implementing necessary safety measures and ensuring the least inconvenience for motorists. As the situation see-saws between the fury of the elements and the resilience of the infrastructure, it’s a true testament to the indomitable spirit of the Nadi district and its people.