Historians say it’s the worst flooding in half a century for Thailand, exacerbated by an inadequate water management system.
Since July, flooding displaced thousands of city dwellers and farmers and killed 427 people. Much of the harm done to crops, businesses, and residential dwellings was caused by dam failures and inadequate storm drainage systems.
The floods hit Thailand’s main food sources of rice and fish. The government estimates the floods wiped out a quarter of the rice crop – Thailand is the largest rice exporter in the world – and prevented fishing in the major fish production areas of the country.
Tourism is minimal because floodwaters shut down sections of Bangkok and closed a major highway, said Tomo Hirahara, a Nazarene missionary in the country.
“We were told that there are only few stocks in the supermarket because the buses were not able to deliver items due to the flood,” he said. “We ended up buying more food and groceries to store at home. The items we bought were expensive (such as imported items) because the cheaper items were gone.”
Thailand District Superintendent Sawat Hahom had to evacuate and stay in a relative’s home. His home is in the Raminthra road area, which has been closed since floodwaters overtook the main thoroughfare.
Flooding drove Field Project Manager Suvit Amonkulsawat and his family from their home. They stayed temporarily in another house in Bangkok until floodwaters receded.
Hospitals continue to treat patients for a variety of illnesses associated with the flood.
“There are already diseases and sicknesses experienced by the flood victims such as fever, sore eyes, diarrhea, etc.,” Hirahara said. “We still experience hard rain in PhangNga. Also, we had power failures from time to time.”
Government officials say the worst is over because the rainy season is at an end; however, the recovery effort will take months and officials estimate the damage at US$13 billion.
Church leaders still do not know the extent of the damage to the district as reports continue to come in from Nazarenes throughout the country.
They ask for the Church to pray for the people of Thailand and the denomination there during these difficult times.
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries has contacted Nazarene leaders in Thailand and hopes to establish a relief fund in the near future.