Bangkok Floods 2011: a first hand account

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Bangkok faces massive flood waters, destroying and submerging everything in its path. Like a slow moving tsunami, it’s testing the nerves of...

Bangkok faces massive flood waters, destroying and submerging everything in its path. Like a slow moving tsunami, it’s testing the nerves of Bangkokians. Here’s an account of what it’s like to be here.

By Karn G. Bulsuk


Link: Read more on the 2011 Bangkok Floods
There is a sense of nervous dread in Bangkok. For the first time in living memory, Bangkok may be flooded as the raging floods breaches defence after defence thrown against it. Like the Titanic, places which were considered “unfloodable”, such as the Rojana Industrial Complex in a neighboring province of Bangkok, are now up to three meters under water.

All of us in Bangkok are on edge and jittery. Because of unrealiable information, we simply have no idea what will happen next. The anticipation kills you: will it flood or won’t it? When will it flood if it does? How bad would it be? 1 meter? 3 meters? Past the roof? The coming flood is like watching a slow tsunami heading in your general direction, but never sure whether you’ll be hit until it’s too late.

Information from the government is next to useless, with different people in the government publically bickering over the analysis and advice to be announced. Last week one minister told people to quickly evacuate, only to have that announcement nullified 15 minutes later by another minister. Earlier last week the government said that Bangkok was no longer at risk of flooding, and then a few days later the government made a complete u-turn and said that Bangkok was still at risk.

Such circus-like performances seems to be the norm for the government at this point in time, to the point that Twitter has more credibility than official announcements. In fact, a recent poll stated that 90% of people simply didn't believe what the government was saying. Add political bickering to the row and you've basically shot yourself in the foot.

The government openly admits that it is split into two camps: one that believes all information should be shared with the public, and another which believes it should be withheld. Regardless to say, confidence in the government’s ability to manage this catastrophe is not so good. As the waters have taken each district and industrial estate one by one, all falling like dominos, people’s belief in the government to protect the capital is at an all-time low.

Food, bottled water, supplies and fuel has flown off shelves as people horde to prepare for the possibility that flooding may cause power to be cut and the water supply to be contaminated. In the past few weeks, store shelves have been emptied as quickly as they can fill them up, with canned food, bottled water and fuel being favourites.

I visited Makro yesterday on a Wednesday, only to find that canned food was mostly sold out, while queues to the cashier were 15 minutes long. Each and every cart was filled to the brim with food, water and anything else essential to survival. The empty shelves were disturbing eerie, for a country filled with plenty is now having trouble getting stocks to the stores.

Tonight, there are an unusual number of moths, mosquitos and other bugs joining me in my condo when usually it is practically bug free. Perhaps it's one of those omens that stories of lore seem fixated on. We're hoping for the best, but down inside, we're afraid that there might be worse to come.

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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Bangkok Floods 2011: a first hand account
Bangkok Floods 2011: a first hand account
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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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