Flooding in Thailand

You have perhaps heard that since August, Thailand has been coping with the worst flooding the country has experienced in 50 years.  From the far north in Chiang Mai and other mountainous provinces, through the central plains, and now down to the region closest to the Gulf of Thailand, the country has experienced widespread destruction.  At least 297 people have died, 700,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, and estimates are that the waters could wind up costing the country US$5 billion, or about 1% of GDP. 

Flood 005

The region currently affected is the southern half of the Central Plains, the rice bowl of Thailand.  Nearly 15 million acres have been flooded, of which 3.4 million acres are farmland.  The above graphic shows flooded areas in light blue.  As you can see, the province of Ayutthaya, home to the ruins of the second capital of the Kingdom of Siam, is the most severely affected.

Flood 007

Many of the major ruins, temples, and historical sites in Ayutthaya have been affected by flood waters, some areas more than 2 meters deep.  The United Nations is sending teams to help survey the UNESCO World Heritage sites and offer assistance.

Flood 006

The muddy waters of the Chao Phraya river cannot easily be contained, sweeping into cities and villages along its banks.  Most of central Thailand is low-lying land.  There are signs that those who live upriver from Bangkok feel that their land has been sacrificed in the name of keeping Bangkok safe.  Since the last major flooding in Bangkok in 1995, extensive measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of flooding for the capital.  One of those measure is the deliberate flooding of farmland in the provinces north of the city, the so-called “monkey cheeks” approach.  Without a doubt, the impact of flooding farmland is much less than the impact of flooding major cities.  Nonetheless, that is cold comfort for the familes directly impacted by those policies.

Flood 008

Unfortunately, the flooding has not been limited to farmland.  Between Ayutthaya and Bangkok lie many industrial parks, home to manufacturing centers for companies from around the globe.  As an example, Honda’s factory, which accounts for some 5% of its global production, was flooded.  Pictured above, new Honda cars sit in the factory’s parking lot, some submerged and others partially floating.

Flood 002

Fortunately, most of Bangkok has thus far avoided the worst of it.  Some of the northern districts, near the old Don Meuang Airport and Rangsit, have been affected, although not nearly as bad as elsewhere in the country.  Our neighborhood, which is near an area at risk for flooding, is bracing for the next five days or so, until the surge that is coming down the river has safely passed the city. 

A knee-high wall of sandbags has been erected around the base of our condo building.  We have stocked up on bottled water, canned food, and other necessities.  Supplies in the stores are low with many thinly-stocked shelves, a situation caused both by people stockpiling essentials but also because of disruptions in the supply chain.  In fact, Tawn reported today that Starbucks has run out of espresso beans, some cups, and napkins.  That, if anything, must be a sign of how bad it is!  (Only kidding…)

Fortunately, there was no rain today.  But there is an 80% chance of thunderstorms tonight and the rest of week looks stormy.  I hope it gets no worse and, for the more than half of Thai provinces affected by the flooding, that the situation rapidly improves.


0 thoughts on “Flooding in Thailand

  1. Hopefully, the death toll will stay low and damage to a minimum. Meanwhile, Texas and other midwest states in the US are still having the worst drought in 80 years along with wildfires.

  2. Oh my, those are quite spectacular photos, I remember there are countless number of ancient Buddha stautues in Ayutthaya. Hopefully, all are safe and not badly damaged.

  3. This is the first I have heard of how bad the flooding is…of course I have been away from my normal diet of tv news channels since I am here in Fla. with Shawna, Ron and Rhonin and we watch sports for Ron and Cartoons for Rhonin. I clearly remember walking through thigh deep water to get to and from the markets when we were in Bangkok…but nothing approaching anything like what you are enduring right now. (And we didnt’ even HAVE Starbucks back then so that worry was not on our radar…lol). I will pray that you remain high and dry and that the flooding recedes quickly before more lives or property is lost. Take care !!! Ruth Ann

  4. wow, that’s awful! we were complaining about getting too much rain on the east coast, but that doesn’t really compare to what you are going through i think. stay safe!as an aside, it really annoys me that people can look at these climate patterns and STILL insist that global warming is not happening.

  5. @ElusiveWords – I guess the hope is that the flooding brings new, rich topsoil to the fields?  But maybe it takes the topsoil away and instead brings other things the farmers don’t want…@kunhuo42 – @murisopsis – And when the waters come lapping at their eyelids, will they open them then?@Dezinerdreams – @Fatcat723 – @Sinful_Sundae – @Passionflwr86 – @arenadi – Thanks for your concern.  Looking out to mostly clear skies, I’d like to think we’ll stay dry.  But of course tropical skies can change in a few minutes, dark clouds forming almost out of nowhere.  Stay tuned!@Redlegsix – What!?  How did you survive life in Thailand without Starbucks?  Ha ha…@Roadlesstaken – That’s something that worries me.  With sea levels rising, how are major coastal cities in the US and elsewhere going to deal with increased risk of flooding?@CurryPuffy – Hopefully no damage or at least repairable damage.@Ricardo98 – If only we could ship some of this water to Texas!

  6. Good to get an update from you. It’s constantly on the news here. In the beginning, there were many images of the PM “taking charge” but somehow these images have disappeared. I wonder why?! Anyway … hope it won’t hit your place. But you are pretty high up at least.

  7. The earth spreads things around. When there is floods in Thailand there is drought in places like Texas and Somalia.The BBC does international news but most papers in the United States rarely report things worldwide. Bangkok is not like New Orleans and fortunately they have prepared a bit more, but still Mother Nature has sent a lot of surprises to ordinary men.I suppose if you write about Thailand you can comment on how efficient some of the donations will be used. I read that the US has lent some helicopters, a mention of it might give some americans a smile…..

  8. @beowulf222 – Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot for the PM to take care of.  The national gov’t seems to mostly be working at cross purposes.  The local BKK government seems to be more organized, but then they have a much smaller area to worry about.@PPhilip – Regarding your question about donations, from what I’ve heard, most aid organizations working here in Thailand have pretty efficient structures with minimal amounts of loss and corruption.  The US and other countries have generously offered support, yes.  Had this come from a single hurricane or tropical storm, such as was the case in New Orleans or Burma a few years ago, the situation would likely be worse.  Instead, this disaster has unfolded over the course of months in slow motion.

  9. Sign of the times. Here in “sunny” Miami, we’ve had 3 days of none stop rain. In the southern region there has been an accumulation of upto 10 inches of rain in the past three days and to top matters off, a tornado came plowing through last night and blew a few homes away. Fortunately, we have a cold front coming through later on today thats suppose to dry things out. Either way, I built an Ark, with no real help from God, just to cover my ass if matter get worse.

  10. @arenadi The “news” doesn’t get everything. I’ve seen remarkably little about the Christians in Egypt who have been killed. Hard to stay well informed if you are busy. Be safe.

  11. it is sad that this hasn’t been shown on the news at all. i grew up in chiang rai, north and free of a lot of the flooding but many friends from there have been opening their doors to those affected and are trying to help in other ways as well. i hope the flooding lets up soon, it is the rainy season though so i don’t foresee the rain just stopping.

  12. i have been watching this on the news here in southern calif. we had sever flooding along the coastal plan about four years ago the pacific coast hwy was under water as where all the homes built on the west side of the hwy. now they have built very high sand burms in front of those house but when the wave are big and tide is high seal beach is still badly hit as the water goes right over the sand burms. we had flooding here in lake elsinore in 1987 the lake was up on the road about 3ft deep and all the houses to the west of the lakeshore road had water up to the eves. the built a sand burm on the south end of the lake and now it is a beautiful hiking trail. now we are in a drought and on water rationing.  hope the water is not in your streets and that there will be enough rice to feed the people. praying for you.

  13. @kunhuo42 – Grrrrrr!!!  That kind of stuff upsets me.@grannykaren – Thanks for your thoughts.  There are so many areas that have, at one time or another, had to deal with flooding.  Interestingly, I learned that it is the type of natural disaster that causes more damage and loss of life annually than any other. @ordinarybutloud – Thanks for your thoughts.  Growing up in California, I remember that between the floods, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters that we were just waiting for the plague of locusts to arrive.@laceand_leather – Well, it looks like we’re at the tail end of rainy season and we’ve had three consecutive days of no rain in Bangkok, which is certainly helping matters.  I’m told that the next 24 hours or so sholud be critical and the waters will reach our area by then, or probably won’t reach it at all.@Toro69 – Thanks for your concern.  As for your second comment, that news was really downplayed, wasn’t it?@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – An ark seems to be the way to go these days.  Best to be prepared.@corolla1209 – @Sinful_Sundae – @fauquet – Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.  Will keep everyone updated should anything happen. 

  14. RYC : My drink on the picture is Spritz ( you will find a descroption on Google )About Thailand , it becomes worse and worse . I got the news at the TV yesterday . I am sorry for the people of this country.: an awful disaster.In friendshipMichel

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