By THE SUNDAY NATION
The governor of the Northeastern province, Thawat Siriwattananukul, said yesterday that local residents appreciated the kind royal advice at a time when they were suffering from severe floods.
Flooding in Sakon Nakhon – said to be the worst in four decades – was estimated by the private sector to have caused at least Bt1 billion in damage. Numerous local businesses and the province’s economy have been affected as severe floods hit its downtown areas.
A former chairman of the Sakon Nakhon Chamber of Commerce estimated a damage of at least Bt100 million to the local economy.
Businessman Prasat Dongsiri said the floods struck the business zone in the heart of the province, damaging shops, hotels and residences. He said the flooding was the worst in more than 43 years, including the 1974 floods. “The major flooding in Sakon Nakhon in 1974 was as not serious as this year,” Prasat said.
He said the damage was caused by the inability of infrastructure to drain rainwater away in time. He blamed the fast development of the province, which had led to construction activities that prevented water from flowing under bridges and through sewers. Prasat said the rains had started on Wednesday and had continued, leading to floods inundating the downtown area on Friday. He said restoration of the flooded areas might take two weeks.
Sakon Nakhon Airport remained closed last night as one of its taxiways was still under water.
Airports Department Director-general Darun Saengchai said in the afternoon yesterday that the airport would resume service after 9pm. He had earlier yesterday inspected the airport along with a team from his agency and later held a meeting with the airport’s director, Tippayawan Wangsanuwat, and other officials to assess the situation.
The North and Northeast have been hammered this week with nine provinces being hit by flash floods caused by storm Sonca.
Sonca devastated many communities and over 80,000 rai (12,800 hectares) of farmland.
In its latest update, the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) said submerged areas included Payao, Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Lop Buri and Yasothon provinces. Kalasin reportedly suffered the most extensive damage with 61,165 rai of land under water. Some 439 villages and 11,976 families in Kalasin were affected, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reported.
Sakon Nakhon province also faced severe damage from flash floods, with 4,330 rai of land submerged according to RID, and the entire urban area of Sakon Nakhon Town was flooded.
In other provinces, RID reported that 8,000 rai of land in Roi Et was flooded, 4,500 rai in Payao, 3,000 rai in Maha Sarakham, 1,500 rai in Nakhon Phanom, and 975 rai in Khon Kaen.
The department also revealed that two major dams in Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast had already reached a critical level of water storage. Nam Un Dam has reached 110 per cent of storage capacity, and Nam Phung Dam is at 90 per cent of capacity. More rain is expected.
The Meteorological Department issued a warning that the upper part of the Northeast will have heavy rains over the next few days, as the low depression of Sonca was still active, even though the storm has already weakened.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed governors of flooded provinces to rush roasted chicken, steamed sticky rice, boiled eggs and bottles of drinking water to stranded flood victims, Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday.
Prayut wanted the provincial administrations to hand out ready-meals like roasted chickens and steamed sticky rice to the stranded people immediately as they wait to be gradually evacuated to safe places, the spokesman said. The PM wants the food to be rushed on flat-bottom boats, the spokesman said. Provincial administrations of flood-prone areas were told to monitor the situation and issue warnings and help the people in time to minimise their losses, Sansern said.