Here we are ready to leave more than 4 hours late. My son Nathan is with me in the back. Tasanee in the light beige jacket. The others are teachers and one of our teenager loaders.
I just got off the phone with Mom. She’s seen the news reports about flooding in Thailand and has called for the second time to make sure I have not been swept away by raging waters. It’s not flooding in the Nang Rong area, but it is raining a lot, including right now, and yesterday, the day before…
I’ve written so many times how little we are inconvenienced by rain here. Even in the rainy season when I’ve been here it usually rains at night, or if it does during the day it comes down in buckets for fifteen minutes and then is over. I was here all of June, which is rainy season, this year and rarely stayed in due to rain.
This time it’s different, and there’s flooding in a number of areas, including Bangkok, that may well take a month to go away. Bangkok is really low, nearly sea level, so even if the ocean does not wash in, it can take a long time for water draining from the rest of the country to get through and out of Bangkok. For example, Suvarnabhumi airport elevation is five feet above sea level, and that sea is not far away.
Five of our girls taking supplies into a classroom for temporary storage.
Our board member Tasanee Lapimai, a schoolteacher in Nang Rong, organized some area teachers to provide assistance for the flood victims. Our foundation participated in both donations and volunteering. With Nang Rong Community School as the drop off point supplies came in steadily for a few days, were stacked by volunteers, loaded into a large truck and taken south. My car and a pickup with additional supplies and some teenagers for unloading went along as well.
We expected to leave at 8 AM, but did not get away until after noon. The delay had something to do with drugs being transported through our area. We finally went to the police station and got them to inspect our truck so everyone could be satisfied we were not carrying drugs, except for the known drugs we had for the flood victims.
Highway 1, the main road from the North into Bangkok, was closed due to flooding. We took an alternate route to the shelter set up at Thammasat University. We wanted to take our supplies to Ayutthaya, on the west side of the river from Bangkok, but the police and military did not allow anyone to enter the flooded areas. We soon did run into that horror affecting a much wider area of Thailand, the traffic jam. That bypass of highway 1 took us two extra hours, since everyone else was taking the bypass with us.
Tasanee checks off some of the more important of our supplies outside the Don Muang terminal building.
We arrived at Thammasat early in the evening. We heard there were more than 2000 people sheltered there. We saw many volunteers, but most of the others were housed in the dormitories, away from the convention center where all the goods were dropped. They could take our supplies, but already had plenty. Going further to the distribution center set up at Don Muang Airport made more sense.
Volunteer young people repackage assistance goods in one of the downstairs terminal areas.
Don Muang was the international airport until replaced by Suvarnabhumi in 2007. It is still used for domestic flights and is a huge place. There were vast piles of bottled water and other supplies both outside and inside the terminal. School is out here now, so there were hordes of university students along with farang backpacker types throughout the terminal repackaging donated items into “care packages” which were loaded onto various military transports for delivery to the flood areas.
It was into the morning hours by the time our supplies were unloaded and we headed back, but the traffic on the bypass was much less. Nathan and I finally got to bed at 4:30 AM.
Given the scale of things at Don Muang, our donation was a drop in the bucket. Still, it’s great that so many Thai people are helping each other and was fun to be a small part of it.