Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Floods reach Dangkor district, Phnom Penh. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities.

Spean Thma commune chief Um Long told The Post that water in the upper part of the Prek Thnot River dam was receding slowly. But the water at the bottom of the dam had risen by two decimetres as of 3pm on Wednesday, resulting in 807 houses being submerged with 898 families affected.

However, he said: “Until now, none of the families has been evacuated to higher ground because their houses are built on stilts and the knee-deep water hasn’t risen to their homes yet.”

Long added that floods induced by an overflowing Prek Thnot River submerge houses in Spean Thma commune every year and that residents in the commune are resilient and accustomed to them.

Roluos commune chief Koeb Horn told The Post that the water surge had collapsed the back of the Prek Thnot River dam, submerging 247 houses of 263 families at the bottom of the dam as of 11:30am on Wednesday.

“For now, the water is still rising at the bottom of the Prek Thnot River dam. Fifteen families were forced to leave their houses to set up makeshift tents on Street 104 and the compound of Preah Theat Pagoda,” he said.

After inspecting water levels in Tien commune’s Kantuy Teuk village, commune police chief Mil Eng told The Post that dirt and concrete roads had been submerged to a depth of 1.5m in the village. Eng said the road was inaccessible for cars, trucks and motorbikes.

“Thirty-one families in Kantuy Teuk village have suffered most from the floods. They were forced to leave their homes for higher ground. Houses of another 142 families living in Sala and Thma villages are being flooded. They will also be prepared to leave for high ground,” he said.

Van Chan Chamroeun, a Kong Noy commune clerk, told The Post that as of 2pm on Wednesday, 20 families were forced to leave their homes to set up makeshift tents on the back of the Prek Thnot River dam. Another 193 families are living in their homes surrounded by flood waters.

“The collapse of the back of the Prek Thnot River dam has seriously affected residents’ houses in our commune and some other communes in Kandal province and south of Phnom Penh,” he said.

Chamroeun added that the Prek Thnot River floods in general were not very serious if the dam does not collapse or a sluice gate is not open in Kampong Speu province. But on Tuesday, five million cubic metres of water in the Chamkar Te dam on Kirirom Mountain had been unleashed on surrounding low-lying areas. The excess water dumped into the Prek Thnot River, causing its level to rise to more than 8.8m, 1.8m above the emergency level.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang told The Post on Wednesday that water levels in the Peam Kley dam and the Rolaing Chrey sluice gate had risen to emergency levels.

Residents at the bottom of the dam should leave their homes for high ground before the water floods their homes, taking special care of children and the elderly, he said.

“The water level in the Peam Kley dam rose to an emergency level of 7.7m. The water level in the Rolaing Chrey sluice gate also rose to 7.80m, flooding the suburbs of Chbar Mon town slowly,” he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post that municipal authorities are deploying forces to release the water to the south of Phnom Penh and divert it into the Bassac and Prek Hou rivers.

“We cannot allow the water to flood the northern areas of Phnom Penh because those areas house main industry, services and trading centres,” he said.

According to the National Committee for Disaster Management, the floods have affected nearly 40,000 families in the country, 3,000 of which were evacuated to high ground.

The floods have killed 12 people, including five children.

They have also damaged 110,000ha of rice crops and 55,335ha of cash crops.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday announced on Facebook that 37 donors had donated over $5.4 million to help the government respond to ongoing disasters.