Last Word on the Flooding

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. 

Don Meuang
Photo courtesy Bangkok Post

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.


0 thoughts on “Last Word on the Flooding

  1. I hope so too. I’m glad water bottles and food are back. =) Btw, I am back in Bkk now and can’t wait to try IKEA. Would it be possible for you to give me the direction to get there? Thank you, Chris!

  2. Container gardening ? Man, I had forgotten about that. I honestly think a balcony vegetable garden is a tuffy. Though any thing is possible with you. You seem to be an adventurous type of dude with a green thumb.

  3. I keep thinking over and over – what can be done to prevent this from happening again as it does seem to be reoccurring? I grow some herbs on on my porch in small pots. You can a garden I bet!

  4. The news paper today had an article saying that the climatologists released a statement that the world should prepare for more weather and temperature extremes as global warming increases. The predicition is that once a decade flooding will occur every 3-4 years and the scorching that the US Southwest had this year will become every other year… They concluded that some areas may become “unlivable”.

  5. Well, there goes the tourists industry, especially in the coming months during the high season. I guess the popular regions like Chiang Mai and Phuket will be okay.

  6. It’s really a massive impact on the country. And I agree that the lack of information hasn’t helped. I, for instance, shifted a workshop from BKK to KUL simply because the situation in BKK was so unclear.

  7. @slmret – Your read of the last paragraph is correct.  No flooding in our area and really no difficulty in getting about.  Thankfully.@I_love_Burma – Certainly – go to Odum Suk BTS station exit 5 then wait in front of the 7-11 store for the IKEA shuttle bus.  It runs roughly every 15 minutes and is hard to miss – big, yellow, with “IKEA” plastered all over it.  They will drive you there and back.  There are also taxis at the store in case you want to ride directly back home.@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – Green thumb but, sadly, few tomatoes to show for it!  Stay tuned for pics and a video.@Fatcat723 – Regarding the floods, I think there is precious little they can do.  There’s some discussion now about minimizing development in the natural floodways around Bangkok but of course the int’l airport was built right in the midst of one of those!  @murisopsis – There’s no doubt that living patterns will have to shift.  Areas in Canada that once couldn’t support agriculture will now be able to, while regions in the US (and elsewhere) will be too hot and dry.  We will adapt as a species, I’m sure, but I suspect it will be expensive and those with the least means will suffer the most.@kunhuo42 – Mosquitos, crocodiles, skin diseases… there are all sorts of new and exciting dangers to beware of, thanks to the floods.  =(@CurryPuffy – There has been a big hit to tourism since lots of media outlets showed pictures of the old airport, describing it as “the domestic airport” without acknowledging that the main airport is up and running and all domestic flights are operating out of it.  Many people mistakenly think they will not be able to get to Chiang Mai, Phuket, etc.@stevew918 – Correct, our immediate area of the city has thankfully remained dry.@mizz_chan – Thank you, I hope so, too.@beowulf222 – And, of course, going to Bangkok wouldn’t have actually been a problem but you never know…  Thanks, Thai government, for the lack of information.@Dezinerdreams – Extreme weather events will become regular events, too.  Sigh…

  8. @christao408 – Well, several governments had issued travel warnings, and who am I to ignore such warnings. But yeah, the Thai government could have done something about those travel warning. Oh, one of the BKK based participants is now down with measles. I wonder whether they are related to the floods? 😐

  9. I hope too that the situation improves from here. Thailand has had more than her fair share of woes in recent years. My heart goes of to the people of Thailand. Yes, world weather is in turmoil. It has been raining everyday (heavy rain) here for almost three weeks. There has been some flash floods here and there.

  10. I am glad that you are safe and that the waters are receding. We have been through a couple of floods here in Quincy and West Quincy. Your pictures are bring out a lot of heart ache. So much damage to life and land. Be well and be safe Chris.

  11. I am glad to see the situation is slowly getting back to normal- as long as it is not the “normal” implied by the term SNAFU. The government will now need to get with the people and devise a plan so this doesn’t happen again. It reminds me so much of New Orleans after Katrina.Stay safe.

  12. That escalator is downright dangerous. I can just imagine the bottleneck at the bottom and people just piling on. I saw an update in the news today. The water is stagnant and doesn’t seem to be receding in some areas. I wonder if it is just “landlocked”. I feel so sad for all those whose lives will never be the same and for the families who lost their loved ones.

  13. The wooden steps are not really a good idea since I find it quite dangerous, especially for kids and older individuals, not to mention women on high heels! But it’s really great news to hear that the floods are receding. At last, everyone can have a good night’s sleep.

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