Quick (and hopefully final) update to the flooding situation here in Bangkok:
While the waters have started to slowly recede, many areas on the northern, western, and eastern edges of the city continue to be under a meter or more of water. This water has been there for, in some cases, nearly a month and has stagnated. Needless to say, residents of these areas are furious and have taken to tearing openings in some of the sandbag barriers to enable some of the water to more rapidly drain away.
In the past few weeks, what had just been piles of sandbags in the Sukhumvit area (where I live) has turned into more extreme defenses against the likelihood of flooding, a vote of no-confidence in a government that has continued to be incapable of communicating useful information in a timely manner. Thankfully, by this point it seems unlikely that we will see any water but nobody is removing the defenses yet.
Outside an office building in the Ploenchit area, two rows of sandbags with a wall of boards sealed at its base with silicone or tar to hold back water. Of course, vehicles are unable to enter or exit this building so, like many buildings around the city, business is being impacted.
Along the road leading up to the international airport, mega-sandbags were laid out and pumps installed in case the road itself needed to be turned into a canal to channel the water out of the city. The airport’s retaining wall was increased to 2.5 meters (almost 9 feet) and, despite having been built in the midst of a natural flood plain, the airport has thus far remained dry.
Not so the old airport, Don Meuang, which before the flood was being used as an air force base and for limited domestic service. It is still closed with more than a meter of water covering the entire airfield. It will cost millions of dollars and take at least two months to bring this airport back into service.
As of last week, walls and other barriers were still being constructed. Here, a view from the inside of the Villa Supermarket near Sukhumvit Soi 33, looking outside to the street. A wall of concrete blocks and sandbags was built, necessitating a climb over the wall with your groceries.
The subway stations, exits at a few of which were closed because of the flooding, had flood barriers installed. These were new additions but were added very quickly that I imagine they must have been prepared in advance and stored for such an event. I’m unclear why there’s a gap at the corner but I guess they would close it with sandbags?
Finally, while at Bangkok Hospital this past week, off Phetchaburi Road, I noticed the wide range of flood protection they had put into place, including concrete walls around the base of escalators so water wouldn’t damage the machinery. Kind of awkward to climb the wobbly wooden steps to get over the wall. Perhaps it is part of their plan to treat more slip-and-fall patients!
Here is a short video showing some of the other flood preparations at Bangkok Hospital.
As mentioned above, I’m hoping this is the last entry I write on this subject. The amount of damage and suffering in Thailand has been immense – 594 deaths as of this morning – and yet I’m not sure that there’s anything more I can add to the subject after this point. I’ll return to other subjects from this point onwards including an update on my attempts at container gardening.