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Phrae, lower North battle floods

Sep 15. 2012
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By The Nation on Sunday

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Yingluck maintains govt on target in preparations for the rainy season

The northern province of Phrae became the latest area to be hit by widespread inundation as Thailand battles another rainy season.

More than a third of the 2,000 families in Phrae’s Wang Chin district had to flee their homes late on Friday and early yesterday after being hit by a heavy flood. Huge forest run-off swamped 700 homes in two tambons – Naphun and Wang Chin. 
Reports said many brooks in the district had overflowed. Some areas were under water a metre deep, which prevented villagers travelling outside their areas. The district office gave them meal boxes and was giving them bags of relief. Soldiers were deployed to deliver assistance.
The first mass of floodwater that swamped Sukhothai town a few days ago has receded, but provinces downstream have also been hit – Phitsanulok, Phichit and Nakhon Sawan.
Yesterday, a second mass of water inundated the northern province of Lampang.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday the government’s preparations were on target for this year’s wet season after last year’s crisis – the worst flood in five decades.
To prevent a repeat of the Sukhothai flood last week, the Royal Irrigation Department would install water level gauges in areas prone to disasters.
The premier said in her weekly programme “Yingluck Government Meets the People”, live from Krabi, that flood management this year was more satisfactory than last year as the government had learnt to respond more effectively and the situation could return to normal in Sukhothai in three days.
Yingluck said the gauges would monitor the amount of water being released from dams in areas at risk of being flooded. 
Royal Irrigation Department director-general Lertwiroj Kowattana said economic zones would certainly be protected.
He said agriculturists would be informed in advance before the authorities released water through farming areas. The department would carefully release water and manage the level in dams. 
Meanwhile, forest run-off from Doi Phrabat hit 100 households in Lampang’s Muang district. Mae Tha, Mae Mo, Wang Nua, Chae Hom, Muang Pan and Hang Chat districts were also hit by floods. 
A landslide partially blocked Lampang-Chae Hom Road after heavy rain. 
Areas in Nakhon Chiang Mai Municipality were flooded yesterday after hours of rain on Friday night. But with garbage blocking drains, it was difficult for officials to release water, so pumps had to be used in some areas.
Although the flood situation returned to normal in Sukhothai, forest run-off caused by heavy rain affected 11 villages in Si Satchanalai district’s tambon Maetuk yesterday morning. 
About 100 out of 700 families in tambon Maesin had to be evacuated to safer places. 
Authorities delivered food and drinking water to affected residents in some areas. 
However, officials said the flood situation had eased by yesterday evening.
In Phitsanulok’s Muang district, a monk’s 20-year-old teak cell collapsed due to softened soil under it caused by the raised water level of the old Yom River, heavy rain and strong winds on Friday night. 
Locals in other parts of the district faced polluted floodwater as buildings blocked natural release areas. Soldiers have been working round the clock to repair a wooden bridge cut off by floods in Phrom Phiram district following an order by the premier to help locals use it within two days.
In Phichit, residents in Sam Ngam district have had to travel by boat after the Yom River overflowed and a canal led to a metre-high flood inundating 30 houses. 
Five districts – Pa Mok, Chaiyo, Wiset Chai Chan, Pho Thong and Muang – were declared flood disaster zones in Ang Thong province.
Meanwhile, relevant agencies yesterday practised a drill in Nakhon Ratchasima that used aircraft to rescue people so they can apply this rescue method to help people in flood-hit areas later. 
Flood assistance is being provided to affected people in many provinces. 
Today, Friends in Need (of “Pa”) Volunteers Foundation will provide relief bags to 200 families in flood-hit areas in Chaiyaphum’s Kaset Sombun district. And a caravan of 28 vehicles travelled from Tak yesterday to deliver relief items to locals in Sukhothai.

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