A depression in the South China Sea brought incessant
rain into the North of Thailand on August 12, producing one of the heaviest
rainfalls in history. Locals say they have not seen such extensive flooding
for 40 years.
The flooding began in the Northern districts of Chiang
Mai on the evening of August 13 and increased rapidly throughout the night.
Floodwaters covered the entire city area by the morning of the 14th.
Restaurants, shops, hotels, and homeowners in the vicinity of the Ping River
were forced to evacuate and move their belongings to higher ground.
Many roads became impassable, such as under Pa Tan
Bridge, Ban Tho Muang Lang and near Region 5 Police headquarters, to Pa Daed
village. Many areas, both inside and surrounding Chiang Mai Municipality,
were covered in water, such as Wang Singh Kham Road, the Wat Pa Phaeng area,
Muang Samut Road, Fah Haam Road, Chang Khlan Road, Charoen Prathed Road, Loy
Kroh Road, Ban Pa Prawnok, Chiang Mai Land Village in Chang Klan, Chiang
Mai-Lamphun Road, Bamrung Rat Road, Rat-Uthit Road, Thung Hotel Road, Nong
Pa Khrang especially in areas where the ground level is lower than the Ping
River in Wiang Thong Village where 170 family homes were in over two meters
of water. Villagers were forced to move their belongings to higher ground
and parked their cars on Mahidol Road, stretching out for two kilometers.
Boats were used to bring out the aged and children,
especially in the Chang Klan area which is Chiang Mai’s main business
center where the Night Bazaar and many of the major hotels are located.
Water levels were waist high and hotels in the area had to request
assistance from the military to take tourists to safe areas. Some schools in
the area as well as on Chang Klan Charoen Prathaed and Kaew Nawarat Road
have been closed and did not reopen until everything was back to normal.
PM Thaksin Shinawatra flew in to Chiang Mai at 11 a.m. on
August 14 and was shown the damage. The next day he flew over the area in a
helicopter and later said, “The floods in Chiang Mai were caused by the
Ping River overflowing in many areas as well as illegal deforestation.” He
has instructed the ministers responsible to carry out checks.
Governor Suwat Tantipat and Chumporn Saengmanee, Muang
district chief officer checked on the situation in various locations and
instructed agencies to provide total assistance to those in need. In Chiang
Mai Municipality, Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn set up an emergency center.
Sandbags were distributed and officials are accepting rice and processed
food donations to be given out to the needy. The police and emergency
services received many calls for help. The military provided personnel and
Other provinces also provided assistance, including
Kamphaeng Phet and Phitsanulok who supplied boats and personnel.
The highest water level of the Ping River was measured at
4.90 meters at 10 p.m. on August 14. The Hydrology Department announced that
it had dropped to 4.60 meters at 12.30 a.m. on the 15th. The Hydrology
Department predicted the level would drop at the rate of 4 centimeters an
hour and return to normal on August 16.
That there has been loss of life, loss of property and
loss of livelihood and physical damage is lamentable, but perhaps now is the
time for Chiang Mai to stop being complacent. It is only a few weeks ago
that we ran an item entitled, “Chiang Mai municipality tries to prevent
flooding”, and at the end of the article we quoted Mayor Boonlert who said
that he was confident that Chiang Mai residents would not face floods this
year. The events last weekend have shown categorically that the attempts to
prevent flooding were sadly lacking, and the mayor was wrong. The PM’s
description of the problem may be quite correct, but the answer to the
problem was not spelled out.
If Chiang Mai wants to consider itself the hub of everything in the
North, it must urgently tackle the flood mitigation problems. Money that has
been spent on tourist attractions might have been better spent on ensuring
that Chiang Mai is safe, not just for tourists and residents all year round,
but also a safe investment for entrepreneurs. Currently it is neither.
hangs onto a tree outside his flooded house in Mae Tang district of Chiang
Mai province. (Photo by Wichai Tapriew)
morning at the Municipality Stadium, a group of foreign friends provided 175
lunches with the money raised during an ad-hoc fundraising activity. (Photo
by Nopniwat Krailerg)
distribute drinking water Monday morning. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
few hundred meters from Baan Suan Restaurant (Photo by Lars Magnussen)
Sunday afternoon - Khamthien market is out of sandbags, but crates might
also help? (Photo by M. Vogt)
off on a bike... ( Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
afternoon 4 p.m. - Evacuation in full swing. This is the area around Panthip
Plaza (Photo by M. Vogt)
Weicks, Becky Lomax and granddaughter Lesley try to reach home after a
Sunday afternoon out, which turned into an adventure ... Flower Condominium
was under water.
are evacuated by trucks, by military, by high vehicles from all areas and
hotels around Night Bazaar, Ping River and from guesthouses near the
railroad station. Most of them see it as an adventure, but as always, some
Bazaar in the evening, a flooded ghost town. (Photo by Gavin Burgess,
Mai’s favorite restaurants are spading mud off the floors and make sure
that equipment survived by Monday afternoon ... Seen here the folks from
Sojo’s, securing with sandbags. (Photo by M. Vogt)
Mai Post Office (Photo by Wanna Thomas)
afternoon, chaos in the streets and everybody hopes that the water will stop
rising ... (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
Mail office is flooded as well. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
go for a burger... by boat. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
teams at Night Bazaar. (Photo by Gavin Burgess, thaichange.com)
Gate on Thapae Road. (Photo by Gavin Burgess, thaichange.com)
assigned to build a sandbag wall, arrive at an ancient city in Chiang Mai.
Flash floods in five provinces of northern Thailand killed at least 10
people and left several areas cut off, officials said. (AP Photo Wichai
p.m. - Why won’t it start? (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
like a Tidal wave ... the girl next to the driver does not look very
convinced that they will make it. (Photo by M. Vogt)
in Chiang Dao district Chiang Mai were completely inundated.
Bazaar (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
teams deliver sand bags in the downtown area. (Photo by M. Vogt)
Suwat Tantipat and Maj. Gen Phairat Tongjaktu, commander of the Pha Muang
Task Forces inspect the devastation.
recovery from this will take weeks.