Government Spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday (Jan 15) that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered provincial governors and local administrative agencies to beef up precautionary measures against flooding as heavy rainfall is expected in the South, according to the Thai Meteorological Department.
The rain is expected to start from today (Jan 16) and last until Wednesday (Jan 18).
“The Priminister Minster ordered all southern provincial governors to warn people of possible flooding and devise measures to tackle floods this week,” he said.
Lt Gen Sansern advised villagers to move their belongings to higher ground and exercise extreme caution when travelling.
Small craft should stay ashore due to gusty winds and strong waves.
Villagers were also advised to closely follow weather forecast updates and announcements from the government.
Those who need assistance can contact both local and central state agencies or call the government’s hotline at 1111 and the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) call centre on 1784, around the clock.
Lt Gen Sansern said flooding in several southern provinces had abated.
However, flood water in some provinces, particularly Surat Thani and Nakhon Sri Thammarat, remained at high levels.
More than 70 water pumps and 50 water jet propulsion machines have been installed in both provinces and other flood-hit areas to discharge water to the sea as quickly as possible.
Besides the measures to tackle flooding this week, Lt Gen Sansern said Gen Prayut also directed the Interior Ministry to gather information on city planning papers in the southern provinces to draft a drainage plan as a long-term solution to flooding.
Meanwhile, DDPM director-general Chatchai Promlert yesterday wrote to chiefs of the DDPM offices in the South, warning them of possible flooding, flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rain in five provinces.
They are Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Phatthalung, and Songkhla.
Mr Chatchai also ordered both offices to put equipment, machines and vehicles necessary for rescue missions on standby around the clock, adding the preparations must be reported to the department.
According to the DDPM, floods in the South this month have claimed 41 lives.
In Surat Thani, Vice Governor Witchawut Jinto instructed the Provincial Fisheries Office to inspect 42 crocodile farms in its seven districts.
The inspection aimed to prevent more than 4,000 crocodiles from escaping from farms if they are flooded.
Also yesterday, Grisada Boonrach, the permanent secretary for the interior who serves as a deputy commander of a national disaster prevention and mitigation panel, sent an urgent letter to southern local administrative bodies, instructing them to be prepared for flooding over the next week.
Provincial governors were ordered to deploy water pumps to flood-prone areas, particularly Surat Thani’s Phunphin district and areas around Thale Noi Lake in Phatthalung.
Authorities also managed to release water from the Tapi and Trang rivers.
A budget to help flood-affected victims has been increased to B50 million for each province while flood-relief packages will be distributed to victims.
The ministry ordered local authorities to organise donations to flood victims in accordance with state regulations.
“Local authorities should review measures against flooding which were impractical last time to devise a new long-term solution such as getting rid of structures obstructing waterways and building kaem ling (monkey cheek) water-retention zones,” Mr Grisada said.
“Importantly, water management strategies launched by the late King should be applied to each area,” he said.
Meanwhile, Royal Irrigation Department Director-General Somkiat Prajamwong said the department also put 239 water pumps and 112 water jet propulsion machines on standby to handle flood waters this week.
The department was also working on a 14-area water strategy which is part of long-term measures to address flooding in the southern region over the next 20 years, he added.
The government held a televised charity programme last night to mobilise donations from people nationwide to help flood-affected victims in the South.
Gen Prayut joined celebrities to receive telephone calls from donors.
At least B329mn had been donated at press time.
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