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Flood Preparations 21st October 2011

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Here in Bangkok we're expecting the flooding to arrive. It already has in the outlaying suburbs, the dams north of Bangkok are full beyond their capacity, and the gates have been opened to release some of the pressure into the canals- better a slow rise in water than a rush of water if a dam burst.

If you click the map above, it takes you to the Governments Crisis Map, showing the current state of the flooding. Down the right hand side are overlays, the top options shows the areas declared as disaster areas, the second from top is the flooded area overlay.

With the news full of images of villages and towns covered in water, Bangkok people are panic buying, the photograph is of Tesco Lotus shelf, the one that normally is filled with instant noodles and dried goods, stripped clean.

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Bottle water is out of stock everywhere. I heard the shelf stacker complain, she was stacking Mama on the shelves and people where taking it off as fast as she was putting it on. I was able to find a supermarket with Mama noodles though, Big C opposite the entrance to Queens Park in Bangkok. As soon as I saw it I rushed to get some, I wonder why these weren't taken? Oh, 'Vegetarian Tofu and Shitake flavour'... thanks but I'll take my chances with the floods!

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The center of Bangkok is expected to be spared, the eastern side is expected to see floods. They're not totally sure where the water will leak from the canals as it drains, so everyone is preparing for the worst as though it is their house or office that will be flooded. See the photo below? He's built a wall around the door to the shop, and covered it with plastic sheeting to deflect rain (which would otherwise build up behind the wall). Most people are sandbagging rather than making concrete walls. The taxi driver tells me the sandbags for his house were 45 baht per bag, about $1.50.

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The canal in the video on this article, Bang Pu might be hit soon. That's on the east side and several of the side streets were already flooded, so it's likely to be one of the places that gets flooded. As indeed may Banphliyainai, the place I visited for the Lotus festival, also on the east side, also down stream. If you watch the boat video, you'll see the canals are full, but the levels are controlled, and in the Bang Pu video, you can see they had the gate open to release the water.

Despite the gloomy predictions, I think we'll be fine. There's plenty of food available, I think the panic buying is unnecessary, and there are cheap filter water dispensing machines everywhere. You pay 1 baht for 1.5 litres of filtered tap water that is fit to drink from these machines, although Bangkok tap water is already pretty good these days, most Thai's could drink it without problem and probably most foreigners too.

Everyone's attitude is 'better prepared than sorry', and we'll see how it pans out over the next few days. You can see from the Thai PBS broadcast towards the end how high the water is in the dam.

If you want to help with the flood victims, over 300 people have died in these floods, I'm recommending Channel 3's fund, which is the one I donated to. See the details on my lightning article.


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