Bangkok Flooding: The Waiting Game

For over a week, Bangkok has been in a state of panic.  Everyone is packing up their houses, sealing doors and windows with silicone, buying sand from other provinces, finding ways to block their pipes and other points of weakness where water may enter.  Plastic bags large enough to seal entire cars are in hot demand and sold out in a matter of hours.  Plastic gallons for filling up both tap water and drinking water are snatched up like this season’s “must haves.”  In supermarkets, many shelves are empty.  Only imported mineral water remains and bread are out of stock.  Eggs vanish the minute they are restocked.  Now in order to ensure fairness, supplies have to be limited. Two packs per household.

We stock up on water and drinking water, yet I wonder if we will really stay once the water arrives. The biggest problem seems to be getting elders to evacuate.  We love our homes, but we must also cherish our lives.  Being isolated in an island in the midst of a sea of water is no fun and potentially dangerous to your health.  Along with the water comes disease, snakes, crocodiles and sea cucumbers that suck your blood.

Evacuate if you can is what everyone is saying.  Carry with you your valuables and leave.  Since the government announced the 27th -31st October as public holidays, many more people are going out of town.    Flights out of town are full.  Only one airport is left.  The smaller one which happens to be the headquarters of the Flood Relief Operations Center is closed due to flooding. They are still there behind a wall of water.

If you asked me what are the worst things regarding all this flooding? I would have to say the lack of accurate and reliable information coupled with the psychological affect of having to constantly  anticipate what happens next.  We do not know how long and how high the water will come.  It depends on what street you live on.   Some streets are higher and do not get flooded whilst others have chest high water.

The anticipation is like watching a bomb waiting to explode, watching the clock countdown before the explosion.  If it’s a good bomb, it’ll explode in full force, if it’s a dummy, the effect will be minimal.  Yet you do not know, until it really explodes, and so you start preparing for the worst.  Three meter high walls are being built.  As the situation worsens, everyone is putting in reinforcements.  At first just a row or two of sandbags, now more and more are needed. I spotted one shop house with its windows completely lined with sandbags. I hope the window can withstand the weight of the sandbags.

Then I wonder if we will explode before the bomb actually explodes. All this waiting is indeed taxing on the psychological health of Bangkok citizens.  The only thing we talk about now is how to plan for the “flooding.”  We follow news updates as if it were some form of drug addiction.  Bangkok now awaits the flood, whilst Europe awaits to hear the summit results. Hearts all thumping, everyone awaits to see the outcome.  It’s not healthy.

We shouldn’t have to go through this. Not when it could have all been avoided.

People say we are going through a “dark phase” of our nation.  I have to say that even migrant workers no longer want to stay.  They say that in their country, floods only happen by the rivers.  No such thing as flooding entire capitals. Other workers say that this is the end of Bangkok. Such are the reactions from our domestic helps.

So once the land of smiles, and the land where people once came in search of work, will soon change to become a sea of tears.  I love my country, but sometimes I wonder if it loves us too. Perhaps we took it for granted and now we are feeling the effects.