Sunday, October 8, 2006

Time to get the boats out

This picture is from
Earth Observatory taken Sept 18, 2006. It looks like this year's flooding is really critical and brings back memories of of two other devestating floods I've witnessed with my own eyes. The first was when I was living in Kalasin in the late 70s, my father drove us out to an area close by called Kamalasai. What once used to be a highway just disappeared in front of our eyes cut out by rapidly moving water. I heard of cars and trucks being swept away in their attempts to cross those roads to places they were desperate to reach. The army had to send out boats to pick up people.

The other bad flood was when I was in university in 1980. I was studying at Ramkamhaeng University which is situated in an area of lowland called the bottom of the pan in those days. The systems of water pumps weren't well established and water accumulated so badly in that area that exams were postponed and school closed for a month. I went anyway just to see how bad the flood was. I think I went a few times, one time I remember watching a truck going down the front ramp to enter the university, it sort of nearly disappeared out of sight for a while and emerged on the higher road. On another, I had to get off the bus at the beginning of Sukhumvit 71, wade knee deep in the water about two blocks to board small engined boats to go see the university. It was like cruising a big lake, the building were half-submerged, I could see only the treetops in many places. Those tree remained marked by the floodlevels for a long time.

When it wasn't threatening, it was sort of fun to be with the flood waters. What amazed me was how the boats turned up by magic from who knows where. In those days, even the people of Bangkok remembered that they belonged to a water culture. Water was their element, floods were a part of it all. With deforestation and the permanent concrete structures less flexible than the floatable wooden houses on stilts the damage has increased drastically.

The 1988 flooding was so severe that the government issued a policy to bans logging in an attempt to prvent further deforestation. That, however, was too late to prevent the flooding of 2000 that was caused by a typhoon that usually doesn't cross over from South China sea. Even with all possible protection in place, we cannot escape Nature's inevitable rythms.

1 comment:

KorBua said...

I remember my mum telling me about the 1980 flood in Bangkok. She said that she could see the fish swimming in front of our house which is a soi now. She also said that my dad had to take the long tail boat to work every single day. :P It's funny in a way!