Worsening flooding crisis leaving Pattaya paralyzed by even small storms

Friday, 14 October 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 41 By  Manoon Makpol

Another storm, another flood. This time, however, it took only an hour before Pattaya’s inadequate infrastructure collapsed, leaving parts of Naklua underwater for a day and damaging homes in South Pattaya and on Pratamnak Hill.

The Oct. 7 storm, which saw truly heavy rain hit the area for less than two hours, still wreaked havoc, as promises by Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and city council members to clear blocked drains and canals remain unfulfilled. Besieged residents have been left hoping the rainy season will end soon, as city officials appear unable to handle a crisis that gets worse with each rainfall.

Flood waters in Naklua still hadn’t receded long after the rains had stopped and the sun came out. Flood waters in Naklua still hadn’t receded long after the rains had stopped and the sun came out.

Unlike the all-night Sept. 11 monsoon that so devastated the Thamsamakkee Temple neighborhood that residents are still dealing with standing water, the latest thunderstorm did most its damage in the Lan Pho area where the Naklua canal overflowed, washing waves of water into people’s living rooms.

Pharmacy owner Umnuay Lumpoon said water started pouring into her Lan Pho Market-area house around 6 a.m. as waves washed from the Sawang Boriboon Foundation to Naklua Road. Water levels reached 30 cm., forcing her to evacuate children and grandchildren.

More than 100 families in the Praisanee and Chong Lom Temple neighborhoods were also affected with city workers having to bring in cranes to remove covers to drain pipes to clear the water faster.

Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon and Banglamung District Chief Saeng-Uthai toured the area Oct. 8, again offering words of solace and promises to repair and upgrade a drainage system hampered by garbage, illegal construction and under-capacity.

This time officials said they’d prevent a future overflow of the Naklua drainage canal by building a berm along its edge to block water whose flow is impeded by blockages downstream.

Residents interviewed have little faith in the repeated promises, noting Itthiphol and other officials have pledged to remove illegal structures, send pumps to afflicted areas, build new drainpipes and clean out sewers. However, few victims have seen any of that materialize.

City Department of Sanitation officials assured victims the water would recede soon and that the city was working on long-term and short-term solutions. “We are not sitting idle,” director Virat Jirasriphaithun said.

Residents in the Soi Diana area - always the hardest hit region in the central part of the city - might argue otherwise. From The Avenue galleria to Soi 12, homes and businesses suffered more damage as the ubiquitous piles of sandbags failed to prevent as much as 50 cm. of water from deluging bars, convenience stores and homes.

Sukhumvit Road, a site where the mayor last month promised to add more pumps to prevent future flooding, again became submerged with traffic backed up for more than four hours.

The flooding extended into Sattahip’s downtown, where residents are battling their own local politicians to solve long-standing flooding issues. Sattahip police brought in pumps along the highway’s first five kilometers to get cars moving again.

More than 20 homes on Soi Lungphot and Soi Yenrudee reported heavy damage.  In South Pattaya, homes along Soi 16, 17 and Soi Yensabai were also buried in nearly a meter of flood waters.

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