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Officials confirm floods 'worst on record'

PHUKET: The floods that devastated huge swathes across Phuket last week were the “worst on record”, officials have confirmed, with thousands of homes damaged, two bridges rendered unsafe and unusable and the total cost of the damage done by floodwaters yet to be estimated.

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By Chutharat Plerin

Friday 22 September 2017, 09:57AM


A volunteer helps direct traffc amid floodwaters in the heart of Phuket Town last Friday (Sept 15). Photo: PR Dept

A volunteer helps direct traffc amid floodwaters in the heart of Phuket Town last Friday (Sept 15). Photo: PR Dept

At least 2,000 homes in Thalang were directly affected by the floods last Friday and Saturday (Sept 15-16), while more than 127mm of rainfall drenching Phuket Town the surrounding areas, including Kathu, within a 24-hour period.

Residents in Kamala were evacuated as a precaution against them being buried by a landslide after a landslip damaged several multi-story villas under construction on a hillside there, while schools and residents were evacuated to safe zones in Srisoonthorn, in the heart of Thalang.

Residents in Rassada, however, were not so lucky as a landslide there brought sodden earth crashing through the walls of 10 homes there.

The two bridges on either side of Baan Bang Rong in Pa Khlok were closed as raging torrents of runoff within hours eroded the soil underneath, with emergency repairs carried out overnight to reconnect the residents who were cut off by the bridge failures.

Police and disaster officials deployed flat-bottomed boats to provide assistance and deliver relief supplies to residents in flood-struck areas across the island. Families in danger were moved to temporary shelters until the waters subsided and they could return to their homes.

In all, disaster officials received reports of 28 flash floods on the Friday alone, with more areas affected by Saturday.

“The floods were the worst on record,” Phuket Highways Chief Papiwetwoottisak Sookkii told The Phuket News on Wednesday (Sept 20) after a meeting with Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong.

“We have launched a full inspection of all major roads and supporting infrastructure, including all bridges affected by the floods that are under our authority.

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“We are also working with provincial authorities to make sure all roads and bridges across the island are safe,” he said.

Prapan Kanprasang, Chief of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Phuket office (DDPM-Phuket), noted, “Luckily, there were no deaths or injuries directly resulting from the floods. However, we should take this flood as a lesson, and get prepared for the next one.”

“As always, in every emergency situation, people should pay close attention to the news and follow any instructions given for their own safety,” Mr Prapan advised.

“Also, don’t just believe what people post on social media. Use your common sense and own judgement before reacting and sharing what might not be true or even damaging to others,” he urged.

After extensive consultation with a team of officials assembled to address the flood issue, Governor Norraphat announced that B115 million was to be spent on a flood-prevention project, which will include installing pipes and pump stations, to increase the flow of runoff into the bay at Sapam.

The project aims to reduce the volume of runoff flowing into Bang Yai Canal, and hence through Phuket Town, where bridges came under intense pressure as the Bang Yai Canal came dangerously close to fully bursting its banks, which officials feared could cause immeasurable damage to the city.

Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub, Suthicha Sirirat and Tanyaluk Sakoot

 

 

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