Oct 14 2011
Well, we’re here: it’s the first test. Tonight, tomorrow and Sunday’s high tides will be abnormally high, while the crest of flood waters from Thailand’s north will arrive in Bangkok at the same time. It will be the first in a series of challenges for the flood defenses deployed to keep (most) of Bangkok dry. So how are we handicapping our chances of riding out the rising waters?
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) reported this morning that the Chao Phraya was at 2.13 metres, 3 cm over its highest level last year, when it did not flood, but only seven from the 2.20 level that caused disaster in 1998. Most of the flood wall protections stand at 2.5 metres, but a large section in Bang Sue (near the Rama 7 Bridge) has not been completed, and is currently shored up with sandbags. How much the river rises this weekend will be up to the tides.
Localised flooding along the river is already happening, with many of the piers and markets along the river (Wang Lang, Thewet, Pak Khlong) either partially flooded already or fighting hard to keep the floors dry (they all seem to be resolutely open for business, however, so bring some waders).
The BMA issued a statement that flood risk would be over after the seasonal high tides ended their cycle on Monday — however their credibility has been damaged after mistakenly issuing (and then rapidly recalling) an evacuation order last night for a portion of NW Bangkok.
As we mentioned in our flood post yesterday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is posting a daily update for travellers in the region — head over for handy numbers and lists of sites and events affected by the water (at time of writing they still hadn’t posted today’s though).
If you are planning on tooling around by subway this weekend, be forewarned that while the trains are running, many of the entrances are closed by flood barriers (a complete list can be found here)
So where do the chips fall? Betting based on the reactions of Bangkokians, your correspondent would put all his baht on the river goddess and her mighty wrath: food hoarding, sand bag stealing, and general running through the streets screaming (figuratively, of course).
Stop and look around, however, and it’s a slightly different story. Yes, there *are* empty shelves at the supermarket, but if you turn around, you’ll see miles of other foods you can take home and eat. Yes, the river is high, but the flood walls have been built higher than they were before. The clouds might be dark, but the game isn’t over yet.
Bangkok is going to get wet this weekend — we won’t know how wet until the sun comes up on Monday.
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