Sunday, 25 September 2011
Ubon Ratchathani Floods 2011 Thailand.
I went for a ride to see how the floods were here in Ubon Ratchathani. Last weekend I went out and took a couple of pictures but this week I wanted to speak to some people.
This is a tent city. Small tents have turned into peoples’ homes along the edges of roads that snake their way close to the river. There are mobile toilets and also showers set up for all the people to share.
This is Nim and her family. Nim is the lady in the blue t-shirt second from right. They have been in the tent for nearly a month and up to ten people sleep here. Most years their house near the river will flood but only the bottom floor of their two storey home. This year it is completely under, the first time in many years she said.
They said the tents keep them dry most of the time, but they still get wet in the very heavy rain and it gets very hot inside. They have a fan and some roll out beds. I would say they are only around 8ft by 6ft at the most.
These houses I would say are about 200mtrs or a little further from Ubon’s river, The Moon (The Mun).
There are boats here to transport people back and forward. Some are still living in their houses on the second floors.
It is the same picture in another area. Tents are set up and some families are living in these small shelters.
Again I was met with smiling and happy faces. Plenty of people wanted to say, “hello” and have a chat. This is Ko who is only 18 and his partner. They have been in their shelter close to a month. They said they were fine and it wasn’t as bad as others were worse off than them. People had died in other parts of Thailand and lost their houses and land washed away. He is a young father and is working, so most days he is away from the tent but his partner stays with their child.
The boats are lined up for people to go back and forward to their homes. Most will sleep on the second levels of their homes at night but through the day come out for food and to watch TV as most have no power.
These men were all enjoying Muay Thai boxing on TV. Some were very merry and I had to happily decline the offer of having a drink of Thailand’s finest rice whiskey or Low Kaow. I escaped with the excuse of I had to ride my motorbike and couldn’t be drunk. Thankfully it worked.
I spoke to the guy on the right of the picture with one hand up. His name was Chitiya and he said 168 houses were flooded in the area affecting about 380 people. Most are living upstairs until the floods recede.
He said this was the worst flood in around 10 years, but the one about ten years ago was a lot worse. I found out how much worse later on.
The main road heading into Ubon City has tents lined all the way along it.
This lady and her daughter were being taken back to their house.
Everywhere I went kids were playing in the water, making their own fun. I am an old worry wart. The water was dirty in many places, littered with rubbish but what I worried about the most is the sewerage. There are no sewer mains but everyone has septic tanks. Maybe I just worry too much.
The temple and it’s large what are like an urn as they hold the ashes and bones of deceased are under water.
More houses under water.
This is down past Ubon Ratchathani’s prison. It is off Soi 9 and right near Wat Kut Kool วัดกุดคูณ. The man in the boat is called Bom.
Bom was telling me that 10 years ago, the last time in the big flood he couldn’t even stay in his house on the second floor. He pointed on the temple wall to a spot about a foot under the top and said that is where the water was back then.
Another family made their way to dry land and I had been wondering about the tyres in the water. I found out that they stop the longtail boats. And the older lady's face was priceless as the boat come to a sudden stop.
This is the golf driving range just down from Benchama School, if you know Ubon then you will know where I mean.
This is the road that hooks onto what I call the ring road or highway 231, it comes out at Ubon University.
Some rode in and quickly turned around when they found it a little too deep.
While others just didn’t seem to care for their motorbikes and pushed through.
They were just about to start pumping the water out from the flooded road, it is sand bagged but obviously is leaking in places.
People just went on with their daily life, here and mother and daughter strolled on by, off along the flooded road.
I had walked back to my motorbike and heard the sound of a siren and sure enough an ambulance was making its way through and thankfully did without any problems.
In Ubon there are plenty of people that have been affected by the floods. But what amazed me was their resilience and how generous they were.
I was offered food and drink, not only alcohol but water and soft drink by so many people. Most seemed happy and not too worried about not being able to return home for a bit longer yet.
There have been more warnings in the paper today of heavy rain and flash flooding for the north east of Thailand. Today was a beautiful day, cloudy but warm. I do hope they are wrong and the rain stays away so all the tent people like Nim and her family can move back into their homes.
I met some really nice people today and look forward to returning in a week or two and checking on their progress.