Bangkok Flooding: Khlong Prapa Canal Breached

The Bangkok Post reported today that floodwater breached a barrier at Khlong Luang (Luang Canal) and swept into Khlong Prapa (Waterworks Canal). What that means in plain English is that the floodwater is now flowing into one of the main canals that flows through Bangkok proper, so the water has breached the city’s outer defenses. It’s akin to barbarians battering the castle gate after they cross the moat.

Below are photos I took yesterday about noon at Khlong Prapa near Chaengwatthana Road. The water has reportedly risen at least 1.5 meters since then and covered the road. The news reported standing water on Chaengwatthana Road as of this morning, and central Nonthaburi on the northern outskirts of Bangkok is at risk of up to several more meters of flooding. If and when that happens, the rest of Bangkok will be vulnerable.

 2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (7)

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (3)

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (6)

Although the blame game has started with critics pointing fingers at those they believe could have done a better job of controlling the situation, water will go where it wants to go. It wants to go to the sea, Bangkok stands in the way. The government has tried to stem the flow east and west of the city with mixed results; now the flooding is almost everywhere. I’m of the opinion that the flooding of Khlong Prapa was bound to happen sooner or later. The sooner it flows through, the sooner the water will dissipate.

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (2)

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (4)

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (5)

I’ve been told that it could take a while for the water to disappear. I hope not! If there’s standing water on a prolonged basis, none of us will be able to return home anytime soon. I ran into several of my neighbors today in “exile,” and we’re all in the same boat (pun intentional). We’re essentially Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the moment.

There are some positive outcomes from this situation. The swollen waterways are eerily beautiful.

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal

The flora and fauna are getting plenty of water.

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (8)

And it’s getting easier to catch fish.

2011_10_20 Swollen Canal (9)

Bangkok’s a Parking Lot

The traffic around Bangkok’s bridges and expressways has been light but still at a virtual standstill. Why is that? Because motorists have parked their cars anyplace where there’s an open lane or two on an elevate roadway and turned it into a parking lot. Rama IV Bridge across the Chao Phraya River was closed over flooding concerns and became a temporary garage. One of the major north-south expressways has narrowed to two-to-three lanes with parked cars taking over the rest. Traffic has ground to a slow crawl, if it’s moving at all.

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (5)

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (6)

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (4)

Word has it that the authorities allowed owners to park their vehicles on the shoulders of elevated roads and bridges in order to avoid the flooding but that they have interpreted this widely (literally) and taken more than their fair share. The authorities are apparently planning to tow vehicles parked in unauthorized areas, including those whose owners neglected to leave their names and contact numbers displayed on their cars’ dashboards.

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (2)

2011_10_20 Parking Lot

Cars and trucks now litter the roads. Owners affected by the floods understandably want to prevent their vehicles from being ruined by floodwaters, so they’ve tried to park them as high as possible.

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (7)

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (10)

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (3)

Some owners have gone so far as to camp out with their vehicles or cover them with covers or tarps.

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (9)

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (12)

Hazard cones sit next to parked cars to demarcate them from passing lanes; other cars have their windshield wipers standing at attention to alert inattentive drivers that their vehicles aren’t moving.

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (11) 

2011_10_20 Parking Lot (8)