13 October 2011

Flood Update

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13 October 2011: It is worse than anyone thought. Our immediate neighborhood area (here on the northern rim of greater Bangkok) is not flooded yet, but neighboring districts in our province are. And whole provinces in the rest of Thailand are under water.
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The inner city of Bangkok might have built up enough floodwalls to save it from major deluge. But we are not in Bangkok proper, so we are not as well protected. The crucial test will be this weekend when a huge amount of flood runoff from the north will reach us just as the high tide occurs, the tide retarding the river’s ability to empty the excessive water. Bangkok is only two meters above sea level, so you can imagine the problem. And it keeps on raining!
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I walked to the Chao Phraya River this morning and looked around from the walkway on the bridge. Many homes along the river are flooded, especially the tin squatter shacks put up on piles over the water. I have wanted to take an express boat into the city to see the water levels, but family illnesses and the threat of home flooding have stopped me. I am sure that any waterfront levees that are not strongly reinforced will fail. The sandbag walls down by the river pier are holding it back so far, though water has seeped through because the river is up level to the shoreline and roadway.
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Today I have been reading the local news closely, and what has really sobered me are the maps of the flooded areas and the risks of each area. We are in a very at-risk area. I am writing a list of items for our “Bailout Bags” just in case we are hit hard and forced to pack up and evacuate. “Be Prepared” was the Scout Motto, and it never hurts to think ahead. Write the list; then assemble the stuff in a good old USMC “junk on the bunk” inspection layout (where you lay everything out on a bunk or bed for inspection); stage the stuff for quick retrieval later; then, if it comes to that, pack and go.
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The worst predictions now for our area – if floodwaters actually do break through – are for about a meter or maybe two of water. We can move valuable stuff upstairs, but it would ruin our refrigerator and treadmill. We would still be lucky compared to many poor souls throughout the country who have lost everything they own.
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One problem for anyone evacuating is that looters raid flooded houses that are temporarily abandoned. Anyone who knows me personally well might imagine how I would be tempted to handle this if it happened to any of my property Stateside: Lights off; powerful flashlight waiting in hand; sufficient caliber loaded and locked; waiting in the shadows; looters break and enter; the looter population goes down. Miserable goddamn cockroaches! Can you tell that I’m angry?
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Stay tuned for later developments.
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-Zenwind.
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