The Pattaya Relief Committee reaches within to embrace humanity
Upon hearing of the unbearable plight of millions of people affected by one of the worst floods that Thailand has had to endure, Steve Graham, MD of Securitas Thailand in cooperation with Pattaya City and the Sawang Boriboon Foundation called an emergency meeting of community leaders to urgently plan and implement emergency relief measures to alleviate the suffering of the victims of the massive floods that have caused havoc in the central plains of Thailand, most especially in Ayutthaya and the surrounding provinces.
The meeting held at the Securitas Thailand offices on October 12, saw a large number of concerned citizens of Pattaya attending. They included Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, Vice President of Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation, Pol. Lt. Col. Angkana Muangsaen, Inspector of Chonburi Immigration, Pratheep and Tony Malhotra representing the Pattaya Mail and the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, Neil Maniquiz from the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, Anong Kra-arj, Store Director of Tesco Lotus, Cedric Noripoudre, Assistant Manager Big C Super Center, Barrie Kenyon, British Embassy Representative and representing mayor Itthiphol Kunplome was Rungratree Thongsai, Pattaya City Public Relations and Tourism Specialist.
Steve Graham chairs the emergency meeting of the Pattaya Relief Committee.
The meeting was informed that, although the government and the private sectors are working very hard to bring the much needed humanitarian aid to the victims, the reality is that every day the situation is taking a turn for the worse, with the floods getting out of control and the people’s suffering reaching excruciating proportions.
Sinchai said that volunteers from the Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation have been working tirelessly for the past weeks to bring food and amenities to the victims, but because the flooding is raging out of control, they had to retreat to higher ground or they too would have been swept away.
“But we are still fighting the forces of nature and going back almost every day to bring the much needed relief kits to the victims.”
Rungratree said that the water levels have reached frightening heights and residents of the rural areas have had to take refuge in the temples around the province. “Some of these temples are in faraway places where neither boat nor trucks can reach them. People have had no food for days. The elderly and the young are suffering the most.”
Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn speaks about the gallant rescue efforts of his volunteers.
She went on to say that the monks are at wit’s end as to how to help the people as they have no boats to either go bring some food and medicines that are being distributed in the populated areas or to even take the stranded villagers to safety at the dry centres set up by the authorities and private sector. “The people are in dire need of boats, at least to evacuate their families to safer ground.”
Rungratree indicated that these boats must be sturdy ones as little row boats will be swept away like cardboard because of the strong currents. “They must be big and strong enough to withstand the tremendous force of the water currents and must be motorized because no one is strong enough to row these boats in these uncontrollable conditions.”
“What the people also need are floating toilets,” she added. “These will have to be ordered and built. They don’t have to be luxurious ones, but something that the people can use which is clean and hygienic. … The situation looks painfully dim for these poor people; we must act now.”
Rungratree Thongsai (standing) has some very grim stories to tell of the sufferings of the flood victims.
Sinchai added that supplies are being delivered to the people in the main city areas, but the rescuers are not able to go deep into the village areas where the poor and needy live. “This is our mission. We want to go deep into these areas and deliver the lifesaving goods. We do not want to just give money or relief goods to anyone else to take out there. There are tons of relief goods waiting to be delivered to the people but it’s not being done fast enough. The volunteers of the Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation will personally deliver relief items into the hands of the people, come what may. We have the manpower but not enough boats to take them out there.”
The meeting agreed to purchase an initial speedboat immediately. The boat should be large and strong enough, fitted with a powerful engine so that it can be commissioned into the relief effort immediately.
Neil Maniquiz, head of the international marketing at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya said the hospital has prepared 500 sets of first aid kits which will be on the first shipment to Ayutthaya.
Pol. Lt. Col. Angkana Muangsaen, Kedmani Graham and Rungaroon Harnnarong (Securitas) look sullen as they listen to the stories of human suffering.
Rungratree added that Pattaya City in association with the Jomtien Boating Association has set up a donation point to aid flood victims. The centre, in front of the Public Relations Counter at Jomtien Beach (in front of the Surf Kitchen Restaurant) will collect donations from now until Sunday, October 16. Donated goods will be taken to Ayutthaya via 2 speed boats and 5 jet skis on Monday October 17.
The Pattaya Relief Committee calls on all organizations and individuals to please help this humanitarian mission to save lives. “The need is now,” said Steve Graham. “The victims of this terrible calamity cannot wait any longer. We must act fast to save as many lives as possible.”
Steve said that his company, Securitas Thailand, has pledged an initial 500,000 baht into the Pattaya Relief Fund whilst Steve and his wife Kedmani have donated 250,000 baht of their own funds to support this humanitarian relief effort.
The Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, led by President Gudmund Eiksund, pledged 200,000 baht from their disaster fund as a contribution to help alleviate human suffering.
Steve said, “Initially we will do everything we can to save lives and ensure that we can rescue as many people as we possibly can. Once the water subsides we will go into the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. There will still be a lot of work to do, not only in material things, but also to heal the spiritual wounds of humanity.”
On October 11, the Department of Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation summarized the impact of the floods in the northern, northeastern and central regions, declaring that there were 269 deaths, a total of 60 provinces and 592 districts were inundated, 2,440,603 households in 4246 sub-districts are adversely affected by the flooding and a total of 8,248,994 citizens are stricken with extreme hardships cause by the natural disaster.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome has called an emergency meeting at City Hall for Monday, October 17 at 1 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend and to assist in any way you can in this humanitarian endeavour.
Bank account has been set up for donations:
Account Name: Pattaya Relief Fund
Kasikorn Bank, no. 576 2 05599 8
Chalermprakiat Road, Pattaya branch