Flood Update

Sometimes I feel a tiny sliver of hope that the waters might pass leaving my home untouched. Of course, I try to push those feelings aside. It helps when I look at the satellite map showing the extent of the flooding and the enormous volume of water which has to pass through Bangkok to reach the sea.

Satellite image of Thailand flooding, 5 November 2011
Click here for larger version.

(The area covered by the image is roughly 250 x 175 km.)

It also helps when I remember how people from flooded communities keep tearing down the embankments that keep them flooded, so flooding those in other communities.

***

The good news is that there’s some bottled water available in supermarkets again – though strictly rationed. The bad news is that supermarkets are getting harder to get to: Tesco-Lotus is inaccessible because of flooding; Big C at Fashion Island is closed because of the flooding. Villa and TOPS are (as far as I know) still open, but the associated multistorey car parks are full of cars parked to avoid the floods, so are unusable because there’s nowhere to park. MaxValue is still accessible via a long detour, but is on very low lying ground, so could be flooded very soon. That just leaves a further away branch of TOPS, which is very expensive.

***

When one gets to the supermarket, there’s very little to buy; the shelves are almost bare. It’s like being in a Soviet-era theme park.

Last night I opened a brand new, sealed bag of Jasmine rice to find it full of weevils. It’ll be some time before I’ll be able to have Thai rice again, I suspect. The only consolation is I still have some brown rice (which I’m really not keen on) and some Japanese rice (which somehow just doesn’t seem right with Thai food).

TOPS still has Basmati rice, but at eight quid for a half kilo, it’ll stay off the menu.

***

Bangkok is virtually inaccessible from the north and east, with all the roads cut by flooding. Now the last major road to the south has started to flood, and the powers that be have decided not to try to protect it. They reckon that another road, to the west, which is currently under about 80 cm of water, can be drained in a day or two, and that will provide an alternative way in and out of the city. If that doesn’t work (and given the track record of the government and its so-called water management, I don’t expect it to), Bangkok will be completely cut off, and the Stalinist stocking of the supermarkets will seem positively abundant.

***

To the risk of being snapped by a crocodile we can now add the risk of being bitten by a green mamba – one of Africa’s most lethal snakes. 15 of them escaped a few days ago. To add to the fun, they closely resemble rather less dangerous Thai snakes.

***

Emotionally, for those of us still on dry land, the uncertainty is the toughest thing to bear. First we were told that there was a risk for a couple of days, and then everything would be OK. Once those two days had passed we were told there’s a danger from high tides this weekend and a lesser risk the following weekend. Well, both those weekends have passed, and the risk has neither gone away or even diminished.

Now there’s flooding to the north of me at Fashion Island and along Ram Intra. There’s also flooding to the east (Suan Siam) and west (Nawamin). An industrial estate (Bang Chan) a couple of km to the south east is beginning to flood and, like all the industrial estates before it, is unlikely to be saved. At the moment it would still be possible for me to flee the area. But to where? Or should I stick things out? Decamp to upstairs and fish for crocodiles whilst keeping and eye out for a green mamba’s strike.

Perhaps I should haul my television upstairs. Then I can watch footage of people flooded out of their homes, living in refugee centres, people who lived in single storey buildings who’ve lost everything, people whose ordinary lives of poverty’s quiet desperation have been made just that bit more desperate. And then I can thank the fates for sparing me from that.

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