Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered preparations yesterday for possible flash floods and landslides, as heavy rains were forecasted for many parts of the country over the next five days.
Meanwhile, the Army turned its disaster relief centre into the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s Flood Tackling Centre with two urgent priorities: conducting a preparation plan in case of a major flood and helping flood-affected people.
Deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DPMD) and local authorities in the Central, East and Southwest regions were assigned by the PM to prepare for disasters caused by storms, flash floods and landslides. The order stemmed from a Meteorological Department forecast that the southwest monsoon would bring heavy rains to many parts of the country from June 17-21.
"The prime minister is worried about people in areas at risk of storms, flash floods and landslides, so he ordered the DPMD to warn at-risk people and prepare disaster relief efforts," he said. "Troops in these areas were ordered to prepare to help people in a case of disasters," he said.
Disaster officials in Pathum Thani, Suphan Buri, Prachin Buri, Prachuap
Khiri Khan, Chanthaburi and Phuket provinces - as well as local bodies in 15 other provinces including Bangkok - were instructed to be on alert for a possible disaster.
Meanwhile, Army Chief-of-Staff General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh said he instructed responsible regiments to aid flood-affected people in Bangkok by providing transport in flooded area.
Chatchalerm said the army disaster relief centre had transformed into the NCPO's Flood Tackling Centre with two urgent priorities - a preparation plan for with major flooding and helping people who suffer from floods. The centre would coordinate with related agencies to make swift and comprehensive relief efforts.
Bangkok city clerk Sanya Sheenimit told NOW 26's "26th Hour" television programme (www.now26.tv) on Tuesday that garbage and grease had clogged the city's drainage system and reduced its ability to drain water, causing flooding in many parts of the capital after heavy rain. But the drainage system, which had been improved, lessened flooding.
"In cases where floodwater would have been 40-50 centimetres deep in the past, the area would just have 10cm to 20cm of flooding," he said.
With Bangkok sited on a low-lying plain it was naturally flood-prone, especially areas along Sukhumvit Road, which were little above sea level, he said.
"In 2009, rain over 100 millimetres would take two days to drain and that severely affected Bangkokians' way of life. This scenario is no longer happening because of improvements to the drainage system," he said.
The current system takes around two hours to drain general areas of Bangkok when there is over 60 millimetres of rain, and areas with good drainage system might only take half an hour, he said. Bangkok parks also served as areas to retain floodwater and thus help prevent rain-triggered flooding,
"However, if there is a storm with more than 200-300 millimetres of rain, the system can be overwhelmed. Thus, the disaster prevention plan is needed to cope with such a situation for before, during and after the storm," he said.
City officials were slightly disheartened by criticism but would continue to work tirelessly to improve and attend to flood problems, he said.