Army vehicles ready for emergencies
Governor also busy checking riverside areas; concern over snakes and leeches
A father and his son have a quick lunch on Tuesday after spending the day cleaning their house that was flooded in Chiang Maiís Fang district.
The Army has more than 100 vehicles and 50 flat-bottom boats on standby and ready to help if there is flooding in Bangkok.
"We have staff assigned to take charge of each of the 20 zones in Bangkok," Army Commander-in-chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the leader of the Council for National Security, said yesterday.
Sonthi was speaking before hopping on a helicopter to inspect flooding in the Central region.
He said the vehicles and boats would be mobilised in the event of emergencies.
Sonthi said the Army could also provide medical services because all of its units included medics.
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin also visited flood victims yesterday in the riverside communities in Bangkok Noi and Dusit districts.
The Bangkok Noi district office has provided wooden beds for affected residents, who have had to live in flooded homes.
"My house has been knee-deep in floodwater for half a month already," said Anurak Bantaosaeng, 74, from the Santichonsonggrah community.
However, he said floodwater only came into his house during high-tide hours in the morning and evening.
Anurak said he dared not use any electrical appliance because of fear he could be electrocuted.
"I don't know what to do. I can't afford to have my house floor raised because it would cost as much as Bt40,000," he said.
In the Rajapha Taptim Ruamjai community in Dusit district, the water level had risen to 1.3 metres. Kornwipa Maneenin, 16, complained that the floodwater was up to her waist and she had to look out for leeches and snakes.
Flood victims in these riverside areas also urged boat drivers to go past more slowly because if they speed it sends waves of water into their riverside houses.
Governor Apirak said that for the long-term, residents in flood-prone areas would have to decide whether to move out or fix their houses to prevent recurring inundation.
"There are about 33 communities in 17 districts that are outside the capital's embankment," he said.
In a bid to prevent flooding, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has built a concrete embankment wall along the Chao Phya River and its main connecting canals, where possible. But the embankment could not be built in places where riverside residents refused to evacuate.
Although sandbag walls were made to fill in where there was no embankment wall, floods have hit several communities.
In addition to run-off water from the North, natural high tides were expected from Tuesday to Friday.
Apirak said that once things return to normal, district officers would discuss relocations or home improvements with residents in areas at risk of floods, as a long-term solution.
For the short-term solution, he ordered sandbag walls be erected in Tha Prachan and 13 other risky spots. "After that, we are going to monitor the situation closely. If water threatens to break the first wall, we will form a second wall of sandbags," he said.
The BMA has already earmarked Bt100 million for flood prevention. Of the total budget, Bt47 million has already been used on sandbags and materials necessary to assist flood victims.
As of Monday, 1,235 farmers in Bangkok reported that a total of 18,942 rai of farmland had been flooded and 222 livestock lost in the flooding.
Boat services along San Saeb Canal in Bangkok have been suspended since Monday afternoon, because rising water in the canal made it impossible for boats to sail under some bridges.
In the nearby province of Pathum Thani, Muang Klong Luang mayor Prasert Khaithong sought help from the Royal Thai Air Force to build a wall of sandbags around White House Village in Klong Luang district.
The village was already under 50 centimetres of water, and many of its residents were leaving.
"I am going to stay with my brother in Bangkok. I am afraid the embankment around the village will burst and my house might crumble," Thanyapat Puyasawin, 35, said.
In Nonthaburi, monks at Bang Krai Temple erected a board that said "Flood-Hit Area IV, Nontha-buri, not under the supervision of any ministry" - with monks upset that no government agency had sought to assist them.
"We have never received any assistance and floods have taken place almost every year," the abbot Phra Khru Nanthasopon said.
Floodwater measured over 60 centimetre inside the temple's compound, which has a hall more than 300 years old.