Tropical Storm Dianmu unleashed torrential rain and flooding across Thailand, with at least 10 provinces reporting severe damage.
Provinces including Nakhon Sawan, Sukhothai, Phetchabun, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chaiyaphum were inundated with catastrophic flooding, with hospitals evacuating and dogs clinging to the shoulders of Buddha statues.
In the north, Sukhothai Province is the worst hit area with 7,392 households affected, mostly in Sri Samrong, Khirimas and Muang districts. In the central region, severe flooding struck in Lopburi Province where 37,451 households have been affected.
Over the last two days, flooding has also been particularly severe in the neighboring Chaiyaphum Province, where as many as 10,000 homes have been flooded, mostly in Muang, Bamnet Narong and Chaturat districts, after overflows from the Chi river and the Lam Khan Chu reservoir dam.
Chaiyaphum: Worst Flooding in 50 Years
In Chaiyaphum, all but two districts of the central northeastern province were hit by the worst flooding in 50 years, Gov. Wichian Chantaranothai said Monday.
Only Kaeng Khro and Sap Yai escaped devastation with the province’s 14 other districts declared disaster areas.
Muang, Bamnet Narong and Chaturat districts took the brunt of the damage with more than 10,000 homes awash with the huge volume of water released from the Lam Khan Chu Dam reservoir, the governor said.
Muang District business center was underwater. Runoff was up to two meters deep, leaving nearly 25 communities inundated and residents out of food and drinking water.
At Chaiyaphum Hospital, which long has been prone to flooding, walls of sandbag were reinforced and pumps installed to drain water from the facility.
Digging Out in Sukhothai
Several areas of Sukhothai are still dealing with receding water, from Sukhothai-Muang Khao Road to the Big C supermarket five kilometers away.
Water was a meter deep Sunday around Sukhothai Hospital, Sukhothai Witthakhom School, Sukhothai College of Dramatic Arts, and Sukhothai Technical College.
Doctors, nurses, hospital staff and visitors had to use boats to get them to the hospital, which had been barricaded with five stacks of sandbags.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited flood victims in Sukhothai’s Sri Samrong District, one of the hardest-hit areas, where he handed out relief bags containing essential items.
Prayut – who earlier said flooding would not be a concern this year – admitted that the government is unable to completely solve the country’s annual flood problems.
But he pledged speedy compensation for the victims, adding that the government needs a comprehensive flood-management plan for the country as a whole.
As floodwaters flow from highlands to low-lying areas, from the North to the South, flood management is needed in specific areas and retention reservoirs must be ready to take in water for future use, he said.
Water, Water Everywhere
In Nakhon Ratchasima, flash floods soaked four kilometers of roads, cutting off 22 villages. Water cascaded from the nearby Chaiyaphum mountain range, funneling into the Upper Lam Chiangkrai Reservoir, pushing it to 17 percent above capacity.
In Tak’s Umphang District, an overflowing dam and river that burst its banks inundated the region. Homes were left under water and cars blocking roads.
In Phitsanulok, the Khek River overflowed, submerging Wang Chainam and Wang Thong districts on Friday before receding Sunday.
In Phetchabun, a main road became impassible on Sunday due to flooding. A three-kilometre section of Highway 21 in Wichien Buri District remained flooded, barring all types of vehicles from passing, after a meter of water slammed the district from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
Dianmu Dumped Everywhere
The recent bout of heavy rainfall began around Sept. 23, influenced by Tropical Storm Dianmu. In a 24-hour period to Sept. 24, Ubon Ratchathani recorded 146.6 mm of rain, according to the Thai Meteorological Department. The following day Tak Fa in Nakhon Sawan Province recorded 202 mm of rain and Phliu in Chanthaburi Province saw 182 mm.
According to figures from Thai Water, rivers are above flood level in 39 locations in the Bang Pakong, Tha Chin, Pa Sak, Sakae Krang, Chao Phraya, Nan, Yom, Ping, Mun and Chi rivers, as of Sept. 27.
Levels of reservoirs and dams are critically high in 11 locations, Thai Water said, in particular in the Mae Mok Dam in Lampang Province, the Chulabhorn Dam in Chaiyaphum Province and Nong Pla Lai dam in Rayong Province.
The Meteorological Department’s latest forecast said the entire country, including Bangkok, will see further heavy rainfall. Authorities in Bangkok have been making preparations, installing flood barriers and pumps.