15 November 2011

Neighborhood Flood Zone

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15 November: On today’s walk around my neighborhood, I had slightly more dry sidewalk than ever, but I still had to wade through deep water to get out of our house and block. The water level in our ground floor has risen up almost to the ankle again, but the level on the streets and sidewalks beyond our block is down a few inches. Once I get to the river the sidewalks are quite dry. The river level is still very high, almost brimming the sandbag levee. The amount of water streaming past us from the north is amazing – it just keeps on coming. Our main street south past the hospital is still deeply flooded, and we are still boxed in and unable to travel.
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Thai friends along the way communicate how high the water is at their houses by gesturing knee level, waist level, chest level, neck level, etc. Our once highest flooding of knee level makes us very lucky compared to most people.
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For the first time in weeks, the big mountains of garbage that were growing on many intersections are cleared. People had also thrown out flood-damaged furniture and other debris, and sometimes I had to walk in the street to get around it. At one spot today a huge bulldozer was scooping up junk from the sidewalk and loading it into big trucks.
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Now that every day is quite sunny, people are bringing out wet stuff to dry, and it is giving me a good indication of how much people have been affected by this flood. Few got by unscathed.
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It seems that sandbags were not enough in most cases when it came to stopping the water. Even sandbag levees packed by experts suffered leakage because of the slow, steady rise of water from every direction. The only benefit from our horrendous labors building sandbag levees around our place is that the water that seeped through to our ground floor room was filtered a bit to exclude larger bits of garbage. The water is still quite vile, especially outside around our house.
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Now – ironically when it is too late – I feel I have a bit of experience with sandbags and their effectiveness. If I had it to do over again, and if I had enough materials and help, I would use 10 times the sandbags along with two hundred meters of sturdy plastic sheet. Along with that I would have four or five powerful pumps to pump water seepage out. Ah, blessed hindsight!
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-Zenwind.
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