Unseasonably strong storm drowns Pattaya

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An unseasonably strong tropical storm brought hours of heavy rain to Pattaya last week, flooding many areas throughout the city.  Shown here, the flash flood paralyzed traffic on Pattaya Center Road, with meter deep water from the Central Pattaya market to Pattaya Beach.

Freak storm drowns Pattaya, casting doubts on flood-relief initiatives

An unseasonably strong tropical storm brought four hours of heavy rain to Pattaya and flooding that many believe is only a preview of things to come this year.

Residents have been eager to see whether much-touted improvements to Pattaya’s flood drainage system – including the digging of a cache basin along the railway road and dredging of several canals – would make a difference. The answer quickly became obvious March 24: No.

An unseasonably strong tropical storm brought hours of heavy rain to Pattaya last week, flooding many areas throughout the city.  Shown here, the flash flood paralyzed traffic on Pattaya Center Road, with meter deep water from the Central Pattaya market to Pattaya Beach. An unseasonably strong tropical storm brought hours of heavy rain to Pattaya last week, flooding many areas throughout the city.  Shown here, the flash flood paralyzed traffic on Pattaya Center Road, with meter deep water from the Central Pattaya market to Pattaya Beach.

Flood runoff became hip-deep in the usual areas in Pattaya and combined with foul, black water backwashed out of inundated sewers. From Second Road to Jomtien Second Road, the Central Pattaya Market and Jomtien’s Lan Pho Market, and Beach Road to Soi Buakaow. Motorbikes got stuck and water poured like waterfalls onto the beaches, cutting huge gouges in the sand.

The Sanam Muay community on Soi Buakaow suffered almost a meter of deep flood water. On both sides of the railway parallel road between Khao Noi and Khao Talo, runoff got as high as half a car. Police blocked the road to detour traffic onto Sukhumvit where a subterranean tunnel is being built, again raising doubts about promises by engineers that it won’t flood.

Flood waters rip apart concrete barriers protecting Pattaya Beach.Flood waters rip apart concrete barriers protecting Pattaya Beach.

Traffic across town bogged down, with gridlock lasting about three hours. In the aftermath, police collected scattered license plates lost in the raging water and invited people to collect them at area stations.

The only flood-free areas were Thepprasit and Thappraya roads.

Police joined city workers in helping pump out inundated areas and things mostly returned to normal by 7 p.m.

The entire Pattaya Beach Road was flooded.The entire Pattaya Beach Road was flooded.

Wanchai Sakudomchai, director of the Thai Meteorological Department, said the storm was pushed over Thailand due to high pressure over China. Attributed to a tropical storm over Myanmar, the rain also lashed Bangkok, causing two hours of flooding throughout the capital.

While flooding was severe in Pattaya, officials also noted that the rain came down much faster than any pumps can handle. However, after the flood waters receded, the city moved to install additional pumps in the worst-hit areas.