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Volunteers come to the rescue

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

After watching the government struggle to assist flood victims, the Mirror Foundation and volunteers have launched a project to search for and help people in the four most affected provinces.

Foundation director Sombat Boonngamanong said he needed more volunteers to search for information and help resolve problems for the people.

The foundation wants to focus on Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya and Nakhon Sawan.

“I will provide each team of five people to cover all grids of these provinces,” Mr Sombat said. “If successful, nobody in the four provinces will be left alone.”

He said each team will study and analyse the problems in each tambon systematically and seek ways to resolve the problems.

“We will not leave problems to the government to solve as the government has many things to do and the past week showed the government cannot help all affected people,” Mr Sombat said.

The team started its work last Friday after the foundation succeeded in asking for volunteers to help make life vests made from fertiliser bags and plastic water bottles.

Volunteers from all walks of life packed the second floor of the Don Mueang airport domestic terminal during the past week, after the government set up the flood relief centre. Its intention was to help people who were flooded in the northern provinces of Thailand.

They came after seeing forwarded mails from Facebook and other social networks saying that the Mirror Foundation needed volunteers to help flood victims and make temporary life vests.

Within five days his foundation assembled 1,500 life vests with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

Working with the Mirror Foundation, more than 5,000 volunteers had taken turns to help collect information and help coordinate information with related agencies in each flooded area through the website of www.thaiflood.com.

Poramate Minsiri, who is managing director of Bundit Centre Co and founder of popular websites sanook.com and kapook.com, said public volunteers would work in accordance with the government to send assistance to the flooded areas. Now this system has been expanded to Phitsanulok Airport.

Mr Poramate has volunteered to help the government’s flood relief operation centre to seek help and cooperation and provide flood information to the public via various social networks.

He said he worked with the government call centre 1111 ext 5 for flood relief operation as well as helping to manage donated items.

Amid the crisis now, there are groups of people who want to help victims whose numbers are growing, Mr Poramate said.

He said Thailand has suffered from disunity for a long time.

“This crisis may be a good opportunity to help the country regain its unity,” Mr Poramate said. “One thing we can show is that Thais have never left each other.”

Abhisit urges emergency decree

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has renewed his call for the government to invoke an emergency decree in provinces badly hit by floods.

Mr Abhisit said the government should not hesitate to declare an emergency decree to tackle the severe situation as there had been conflicts over floodwater management at several flood-hit locations.

The Pheu Thai-led government should not care about being viewed in a negative way if the special law was invoked to tackle the flood crisis, Mr Abhisit said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has assigned the army to handle the flood crisis in five provinces _ Nakhon Sawan, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, Lop Buri and Pathum Thani.

Mr Abhisit said the decree, if declared in those provinces, would enable the army to efficiently tackle the problems.

The flooding at Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district would serve as a lesson for the government to improve its flood warning system, Mr Abhisit said.

He blamed the government’s Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) for underestimating the problem.

Nava Nakorn, one of the country’s largest industrial parks, was partially flooded yesterday less than one hour after Justice Minister Pol Gen Pracha Promnok gave his assurance that the estate would be spared.

Mr Abhisit suggested the government turn the Don Mueang cargo warehouse into an emergency shelter for flood victims. He expressed concern over possible flooding at a shelter at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus in Pathum Thani as areas around the campus were flooded.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut yesterday urged the government to stop using the Froc at Don Mueang airport as a PR centre for Ms Yingluck. He said part of the Froc has been reserved for pro-government red shirt members to cheer the prime minister. Whenever Ms Yingluck gave a press interview, red shirt members usually showed up around her to put pressure on the media, Mr Chavanond said. He said those red shirts would clap their hands in support of her after she gave her interview.

The Democrat spokesman said the party had received complaints from people who voluntarily helped pack relief items at the Don Mueang flood relief centre that red shirt members had acted as if they were supervisors of the centre.

Regarding the government’s launch of 500 boats at Nonthaburi to try to push water from the Chao Phraya River, the Bang Pakong River and Tha Chin River out into the sea, he said the operation was a waste of time and effort as there were high sea tides at the time.

Capital declared safe

Posted by arnon_k On October - 17 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Water runoff from North flows past city

Bangkok is safe, with the much-feared mass of water runoff from the North having moved past the capital, flood prevention agencies say.

The overall flood problem shows signs of easing, the government’s flood relief centre announced yesterday. Most parts of Bangkok would definitely not be flooded, it added.

Some low-lying areas to the east of the capital which are outside of flood protective barriers may experience rising water, but the flooding is being contained, says the Royal Irrigation Department.

Affected areas include Klong Sam Wa, Lat Krabang, Min Buri and Nong Chok districts.

But for the rest of Bangkok, residents could rest assured.

The biggest bulk of accumulated water from upstream provinces had flowed past the capital and emptied into the sea, said Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Theera Wongsamut.

He said the RID had forecast the mass of water would reach Bangkok on the weekend.

At its peak on Saturday, the water level of the Chao Phraya River measured 2.29 metres, one centimetre below what the RID had predicted, at the Memorial Bridge.

Flood water in other provinces will stabilise and gradually recede, he said.

“I can confirm that the biggest water mass is behind us now,” Mr Theera said, adding that the Chao Phraya River would not burst through flood walls protecting Bangkok.

Yongsak Kongmak, of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said flooding within flood-protected localities of Bangkok was the result of collected rainwater, not the northern water run-off.

Bangkok has high-capacity sluice gates to control the ebb and flow of water during high tide.

The 6km flood barrier along Khlong Hok Wa Sailang, which serves as the main defence for northernmost districts of Don Muang and Sai Mai, has been rebuilt.

It was reported that the northern and eastern districts of Bangkok were particularly vulnerable to advancing water from Ayutthaya which has submerged communities and several industrial estates there.

RID chief Chalit Damrongsak said yesterday the worst was over. But he cautioned that even though the water mass had drained into the sea, the water would not instantly disappear.

This was because much of the water flooding the fields in some of Bangkok’s surrounding provinces would slowly flow into the Chao Phraya River.

Authorities are watching water from the flood-crippled Rojana and Hi-Tech industrial estates, fearing that it might overflow onto the Friendship highway in Bang Pa-in district of Ayutthaya.

He thanked local residents for letting the RID divert excess water through sluice gates in Khlong Pad and Khlong Sib even though the operation subjected them to the nuisance of lingering flood waters.

By doing so, the water would be pushed into the sea through rivers and canals in the eastern provinces, averting Bangkok.

The RID will deploy more water pumps at the Chulalongkorn sluice gate, one of the crucial points of water management efforts.

A substantial amount of water will also be channelled through the nearby Chiang Rak Noi sluice gate.

Mr Chalit said the next high tide was expected towards the end of the month. Embankments of sand bags and barriers will be strengthened where necessary and he urged residents not to remove the bags in the belief that doing so would hasten drainage in their neighbourhoods.

Mr Theera, meanwhile, said major upstream dams such as the Bhumibol in Tak, Sirikit in Uttaradit and Pasak Jolasid in Lop Buri were discharging significantly less water, meaning no more flood water was being retained in the North that could threaten downstream provinces.

There are indications the water level and flow of the Chao Phraya River were stabilising in Nakhon Sawan, which is at the confluence of a number of waterways that form the Chao Phraya.

The agriculture minister added that the Chao Phraya River in Sing Buri, Ang Thong and Ayutthaya provinces was likely to begin receding in coming days.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday presided over the launch of 500 boats in Nonthaburi to help push water in the Chao Phraya River, the Bang Pakong River and Tha Chin River out into the sea.

Ayutthaya mired in rubbish

Posted by arnon_k On October - 17 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Flood-hit Ayutthaya is now covered with piles of litter, with one shelter at the provincial hall alone engulfed by a tonne of debris.

Ayutthaya Governor Witthaya Piewpong said he was worried about the huge amount of rubbish being moved about by the floods.

Some was carried by the floodwaters from dump sites in Bang Pahan, Nakhon Luang, Bang Pa-in, Bang Sai and Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya districts.

Many shelters holding flood victims also faced litter problems, he said.

Residents at one shelter in the provincial hall compound were generating one tonne of rubbish a day.

Officials put EM (effective micro-organism) balls into the piles of rubbish to combat the smell.

Ayutthaya industrial chief Prayoon Tingthong said Khlong Khao Mao and Khlong Sakhu canals, which received water from the Pasak River, burst their banks yesterday, sending huge amounts of water into Factory Land Wang Noi Industrial Park, a small-sized industrial estate, on Phahon Yothin Road in Wang Noi district.

Factory Land Wang Noi became the fifth estate to be hit by the flooding, Mr Prayoon said.

The estate is home to 93 factories covering 130 rai, with some 8,500 workers.

Most factories produce electronic spare parts for the larger industrial estate Rojana Industrial Estate, which was flooded earlier, and other estates.

The scale of the investment in Factory Land is estimated at 8 billion baht.

The floods yesterday claimed the life of a semi-paralysed woman who died at a roadside shelter in Bang Pa-in district.

Kasorn Ruensunthorn, 46, who also suffered high blood pressure and diabetes, was taken by her family to the roadside shelter after her house came under 4-5 metres of floodwater. She died yesterday morning.

Her husband, Chalong Ruensunthorn, 50, said his wife’s condition worsened after she was moved to a refuge at the roadside shelter.

His livelihood had been taken away by the flooding because his family sold food to workers at the Hi-Tech Industry Estate, which has been inundated, Mr Chalong said.

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