When i came here to live in September 2011 i had a shock. Firstly as i flew in i noticed what looked like snow as we started to descend in the plane. it was only when we got much lower that it became clearer that it was water an a lot of it.
OK so it was towards the end of rainy season so i did not think so much of it. When we got home and i started watching the news that i got more of an idea. Let me give you some basic information. Thailand slopes from North to south, so when it rains a lot in the north in Chang Mai and the like, then people that live between there and the sea, just the other side of Bangkok, then you need to know its gonna come your way.
Thing is pretty much every year there is flooding to the north, but in 2011 it was worse, much worse. from what they said after it was the worst for 50 years!
One of the first jobs i did here was to help with the village plan to sandbag the place. Yes 37 degrees and making sandbags. remember that i can not speak the language, but for sure it was well thought of me helping. One Thai military man helping asked me why i was doing it. I explained that its the way of the Thais to all chip in for the common good or goal. he then said to the others, for which i am guessing he told them what i told him. After that lots of smiles came my way, 6 years on it has not been forgotten.
I am sorry to say that the sandbags were not enough.
When the house started to flood it was very scary for us with a nine month old. Basically there was no choice we had to evacuate. our family member to the south of the city gave us a room to stay in. When he came to collect us the water was up to my waist and i am 6 feet tall. We moved away for nearly 2 months.
After 6 weeks the wife came back to the house to see what it was like. there was still some water in the street, but no longer in the house. It was then the damage for us was clearly visible. I had moved as much as we could to upstairs things like washing machines and fridges and the like. only thing is we have a small house so some things we had no room for. also the word was that it would not be so bad.
What we know now is that as it was we got off very light. more than 5000 people lost their lives in the floods. more lost their homes and everything inside of them. The flooding was not just in a small area it was basically half the country from the mountains to the sea.
Even in our village 2 people died. a man turned on the electric while the water was still around. When his wife saw this she went for help. She was unlucky when she came face to face with a snake. Most snakes here swim and they were on the hunt for food. she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So very sad.
The following is some of the photos from our house and road at the aftermath once all the water was gone.
Thick toxic sludge coated the roads and everything it touched.
living room you can see the high water mark
living room after the clean up
Sister in law helping with the clean up.
The clean up took several days, but again we were luckier than most especially those who lost everything.
The village as soon as it could started to clean the streets. rucks to take away all the salvageable items. another for all the sand bags and then finally came the street clean. this was water trucks spraying all the sludge and people from the village then would sweep it down to the end of the road. some went into the drains which later got a good power hose clean out too, but some was shovelled into trucks and taken away.
When it rains in Thailand it really comes down. during the rainy season, June to end of October, we get the tail end of monsoon from one direction and the tail end of Typhoons from the other direction. When it gets to September we start to watch the river levels. our is less than 100 meters away. since 2011 nearly every year the river has got withing a few inches of coming over the top of the river again and this is considered normal!
One thing that concerns me is the building going on in our area. Firstly the BTS, Skytrain, is building and it will be in our area within a couple of years ish. This will give better and faster access into the city. So because of this people are building everywhere to cash in on the house prices going up. thing is for me they are building where a lot of the flood waters were. It leaves me wondering where the water will go if it ever floods again.
Goodness forbid this ever happens again, but i am sure at some point it will.
If you want to see more of how bad things were search YouTube Thailand floods 2011. there are so many of them and they will give you more of an idea.
If you have been effected by floods or the like, i feel for you. Stay safe as always.