2011-10 Floods in Thailand
I am happy to inform you that our worst fears concerning Bangkok have been set aside. The catastrophe was minimized by the determination of the government, the local population, and some very expert professionals who used their expertise to the full to save the people of the city. Eastern Bangkok and Western Bangkok did take the brunt of the flooding, but the International airport and Central Bangkok have been saved. Of course, this is not the final word. The situation may take another turn in a day or two, but so far things look good.
A satellite was used to determine the height and direction in which the water was flowing. Helicopters are being utilized to facilitate the mission, with the crew giving directions to the ground staff. The flood waters are rushing into the sea.
People are returning to Bangkok. I met a number of people who came by boat. No road transportation was available, they informed us.
Until now, the malls and the stores have not had any supplies. The robust economy of Thailand purchasing power of the people has been confirmed by the fact that the stores have been emptied of all consumable goods. Mind you, people here generally do not use credit, but buy with hard cash.
In the rural areas, the situation has improved, enabling Caritas Thailand to work more safely. There is a substantial amount of work to be done, and they are doing it effectively. The Diocesan offices (DISACS) are also functioning well. CRS has strengthened the staff with a specialist: an expert in Sanitation.
The Camillians have organized medical camps to help the flood victims before diseases outbreaks.
In Churches, prayers were offered for the flood victims. In addition to that, there were announcements made that goods were being sold outside the Church for the benefit of the flood victims, to include T-Shirts, flowers, fruit, plants, and other items. The goods were a little expensive, but the idea behind the sales was to raise money to obtain help for the flood relief work. This is a local contribution that Caritas Thailand may not mention, but it is worth noting.
The Provincial of the Camillians in Thailand, Fr. Paul, writes:
Greetings!! After returning from Lima, we are faced with the challenges presented by the floods in the center provinces and in Bangkok. Our places are safe from the flood and there is no damage. Near our Pastoral Center in Latkrabang, however, those people whose houses lie in the lowlands have been affected. We are helping them to distribute livelihood bags consisting of 5 kilos of rice, 6 cans fish, instant noodles and the like to the affected people. We have already distributed 420 livelihood bags to the victims near Latkrabang and to another 200 families of handicapped persons near the facilities for the handicapped there.
On October 29, two medical teams assisted at the pastoral center at Latkrabang and at the parish nearby. The plan is to distribute another of 600 -700 livelihood bags to the flood victims there.
Fr. Rocco is collaborating with Caritas Thailand to distribute the livelihood bags in these provinces. We will forward more details in the future.
Pray for us, because the flood is heading towards us in Latkrabang before heading to the sea.
And the leader of CTF Thailand, Fr. Rocco writes:
Fr. Giacomo Virot, Maew and I will join the Caritas trip to Nakorn Sawan tomorrow to distribute livelihood bags to 3,200 families from two sub-districts (about 15 villages), located along the river-side in front of the districts we assisted on our last trip. We will be utilizing two army-trucks and three cars to accomodate the many participants.
CTF THAILAND FLOOD RELIEF OPERATION
BANGKOK – Since August, Thailand has experienced unprecedented heavy monsoon rains–the worst in five decades–that flooded most of the north, northeast and central part of Thailand. To date, more than 2.3 million people have been affected, with 283 confirmed dead. At least 3.8 million acres of farmland have been inundated and over a thousand industries ceased operations.
CTF Thailand, through Fr. Rocco Pairat MI, the CTF local coordinator and the executive secretary of Caritas Thailand and of the province itself, have joined efforts to help the flood victims in the periphery of Bangkok (Latkrabang) and the provinces of Ayuthayyah, Uthai Thani and Nakon Sawan. Fr. Aris Miranda MI, CTF International Coordinator has also joined them on these occasions of relief distribution. Caritas is the lead team together with the various Catholic socio-pastoral desks of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Thailand (CBCT) namely, COERR, NCCM, and SDO. The operation is focusing on the distribution of survival kits which contains rice, dry goods, basic medicines, water, and life vests for the community rescue team. A total of 3000 packs were distributed to the families in 22 villages of Nakon Sawan and Uthai Thani. These areas were identified as among the 7 worst hit provinces.
During the visit, our CTF contingent took the opportunity to perform a preliminary assessment of the needs of the population that could be addressed in a medical relief operation which the local CTF Thailand is planning to hold at the beginning of November. In the meantime, a community survey was performed by the local CTF together with the provincial superior in the nearby Muslim and Buddhist communities of Latkrabang (the seat of the provincial administration). More than two hundred (200) families were identified as beneficiaries for the relief distribution on Friday.
Most of the victims were primarily distressed and traumatized by the recent flood. According to the latest health situation report, there were about 90,000 victims suffering from shock and stress-related syndrome. Psychosocial intervention is being requested at this time to prevent mental health problems. They say that they never had an experience like this since 50 years ago!
The locations mentioned above are primarily a convergence zone of the 4 rivers that flow through Thailand from the North. Over a hundred thousand workers were left jobless as more than 1,000 companies have closed down their operations since last week. The migrant Burmese population was also severely affected, since most of them are factory workers. Many are left with no other option but to return to their home country, while some of them remain at the border.
As more floods threaten to come in the next few days, due to an increase of volume of water in the 4 major rivers, particularly Chao Phraya, the city of Bangkok remains on high alert. Disease and sickness are expected to surge in the coming days, as the evacuation centers are heavily congested. Many places in Central Thailand are submerged with water about 1.5 meters deep. In Nakon Sawan, the people are not allowed to stay in their homes during the night, to avoid the risk of further casualties. The place has been put under military control.
CTF Thailand is continuing its efforts as well in making more assessments in various places while helping in the distribution of the relief goods.
by Aris Miranda, MI
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Yesterday, I joined the Caritas Thailand of course with Fr. Rocco in their relief efforts at the north central of Thailand (Utai Thani) wherein 8 villages were submerged with water of about 5-6 meters deep for a month already. Right now casualties rises to 300 people.
The nunciature has released 50,000euro for the flood victims. We are planning to travel again to the north maybe 2 days from now. I told also Rocco to prepare a medical mission plan which they targeted to be done towards the end of this month. Marissa our collaborator is already drafting the plan and we’ll look into it. Most probably we could launch an appeal to our confreres (tentative). We are still assessing the situation. I will still stay here until Friday.
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