These pictures were taken this morning at the main intersection into Samut Prakan City. However, this wasn’t your normal kind of flood. Even though we haven’t had any rain for two weeks, we will be getting floods like this for about five days. Each flood is predicted and usually lasts about three hours. This is a regular occurrence in our city and happens nearly every month. It is a combination of high tides, phases of the moon and a weather front out on the Gulf of Thailand. This time of year is usually worse because we also have high river levels. However, this last flood was unusually high and caught a lot of people unprepared.
The sea water inundated the city at a fast pace. The first sign was the storm drains where water started to pour out. They couldn’t cope with the amount of water coming in from the river. Then side roads soon turned into fast flowing rivers which poured out onto Sukhumwit Road at the main intersection into the city. Locals know that they should stay clear of this area during high tides after a full moon. The floods started at the end of last week after Loy Krathong. This morning was pretty bad though by the time I waded down to the intersection it was already starting to recede. The biggest flood will be tomorrow at about 9.50 a.m. This tide will be a whopping 3.5 meters above the lowest low water. Help! We are sinking into the sea!
I got a phone tip this morning to say that the flood was pretty bad down by the city hall. I quickly checked my high tide charts and even though high tide had already passed, I still had time to get some pictures before it receded. I had originally decided to drive down there as I was planning to go out for the day. I had seen floods there before and usually we can drive through them with little difficulty. But, as you can see from the above picture, they were diverting traffic down a side road in order to avoid the worst section. Only buses were passing this intersection this morning. I parked my car on high ground and walked down to the river. I then had to take off my shoes and roll up my trouser legs past my knees.
If you have walked down any sidewalk in Bangkok then you would know that you have to be careful to avoid the holes. Samut Prakan is no exception. That was my greatest fear as I had no idea of where the sidewalk ended and the road started. I also had to watch out for the buses and the big trucks. As they sped by they caused high waves which could easily swamp me. At the intersection, local firemen were helping stranded motorists whose cars had broken down. They were also trying to keep cars and motorcycles away from dips in the road. One car had water up to its lights.
Some people blame global warming and rising sea levels for these floods. However, others suggest that Bangkok and Samut Prakan are actually sinking into the sea. This is due to factories, and the ever growing population, pumping out the groundwater. Bangkok is built on clay and as the water is removed the clay becomes more compact. Some experts claim that Bangkok is sinking at a rate of four inches per year. Couple this with rising sea waters and they predict that Bangkok and Samut Prakan will be beneath the sea within 15 to 20 years. But, don’t blame everything on the factories and global warming. Hundreds of years ago, this whole area was deep under the Gulf of Thailand. Inland cities such as Nakhon Pathom and Suphanburi were once coastal ports! If nothing is done soon to reverse this process, Thailand will have to start to find a new location for its capital. Maybe Chiang Mai would be a safe bet.
Another location in Samut Prakan that is often under water is the community at Ban Khun Samut Chin.