Thailand Flood Assistance III

November 15th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“The prime minister said the “big-bag barrier” must stay, and ordered more pumps to the scene – but 200 Don Muang residents defied her and opened a six-metre gap in the wall to try to drain 20 housing estates.” – Bangkok Post 14 Nov 2011.

Repacking aid bags is nearly finished. The entire back of our office is full of them too.

The flood is still going on, and no one is sure how long it will continue. Various authorities have been making statements for the last month and most of them have turned out to be wrong. Sue comes into Bangkok airport on the 21st. I hope it is still open then. We have to get our Myanmar visa then. Will the consulate be closed due to flooding? Pretty hard to make plans. The stores are running out of all kinds of things.

Two days ago we left on our second trip to aid flood victims, taking the aid I already talked about . This time we went due west from Nang Rong to the south western part of Lop Buri province, near its capital city. Roads on the direct route were flooded, so we detoured quite a ways to the north and circled around, finally heading south east as we came in. We left Nang Rong at 11 PM. The GPS estimated we would arrive around 2:30 AM. We pulled in at 6.

On the way in we had to go slowly since the roads, being higher than most of the rest of the land, were taken up from one side to the centerline by various tents and other temporary structures. Some people were living out on the roads, others just moved all their refrigerators, motor bikes and anything else they did not want under water out there. I saw a lot of nice furnture items also. I hope the rains, which now are dying out, haven’t ruined them.

This was organized by the schools and teachers in the Nang Rong area, with assistance from our foundation. Our board member Tassanee is one of the main leaders of the local teachers associations and was the primary organizer of this event, just as she was of the one before. We used a large school song taew, like the one in a previous post, to transport the aid packages.

Another teacher from our area, a friend of Tassanee, has relatives in the middle of the flooded area. They are fortunate to have a large home on a raised area which has not been hit even though their next door neighbors were. That was where we distributed the aid packages to the people of two villages.

Our large truck could not come in here over the bridge, so we transferred half our load to three pickups. One is already empty in this picture.

We’re driving on the wrong side on the way to the second two villages. The road is a spillway with water flowing to the right, over the bank and into a canal.

After that we drove a short distance to another village area and distributed the rest of our aid bags to two more villages. Good order was kept by the village heads. They each had a list and checked off each family receiving aid. Bags were set aside for elderly and others who could not come to the distribution site.

Nothing is flatter than a rice field, so when they flood the whole area for miles is under water. Many homes built at the edge of the fields looked to be lake front property at first glance. We saw this from a longtail boat that took us out to view some of the flooded area. They only slowed a little when they crossed the roads, since those are usually the highest part of the land.

Lake front community? Partially flooded village. The expanse of water in the forground covers their rice fields.

Communities all over on the outside have been responding and taking aid into the flooded areas. Our area teachers are just one such. I did notice a Seven Eleven store just a few miles from where we gave out our aid had as much on its shelves as those in the Nang Rong area do. A lot of the major commercial supply lines are still working. If those trucks, which were coming into the area anyway, could have brought the aid it would have been so much more efficient. That is similar to what I heard about Hurricane Katrina in the US. The Walmart supply chain was working fine. When government aid and law enforcement officials needed supplies, they just went and bought them at Walmart.

Whether efficient or not, Thai people seem glad to help each other. The waters rise and fall slowly. People are rarely swept away. It’s fortunate not to have the large loss of life that is becoming familiar with the tsunamis and cyclones in this area. Still, a huge proportion of the Thai population will take a severe economic hit, and they don’t have insurance anything like we do in the US.

Certainly disaster relief is not the main function of Opportunity Foundation. It’s not anywhere in our charter. During this time in Thailand everyone who can is helping those in trouble. There is no reason our foundation should be any different.

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