You’ve heard a lot of talk from pundits and politicians about the floods. Here’s what those who lost their homes have to say.
64, housewife and volunteer at the Chulalongkorn Sport Center
Are you a volunteer here?
I actually live in Don Muang and was helping at the volunteer center at the airport for ten days before the floods came to my house. Finally, I had to evacuate and my son brought me to his apartment in Bangkok. Now I have been helping here at Chula.
Has your house been affected by the floods?
I was living by myself so I wasn’t able to save or pack away most of my belongings. Many of the things are heavy and I can’t carry them by myself. Now that I know how high the water level has reached, I am sure everything in my house has been destroyed. I was unable to put my car in a safe location, so that is also gone. Everything is gone there.
Why did you decide to come and help even though your own house is under water?
I don’t have much to do in Bangkok and I don’t have much money to help others but I can give my strength. It makes me happy.
What do you think of the government’s handling of this disaster?
They did not inform the public properly. They seem prepared but had problems cooperating with each other. I also don’t know if I will receive any help once I return home.
32, storekeeper, now at Rajamangala Stadium
How has your area been affected by the floods?
I am from Ayutthaya, I was born there and have lived there all my life. At first the water arrived just like regular floods, then as the dam broke it got worse and worse. We realized it wasn’t like the usual floods anymore. When we left our house the water was chest high. After we left, I called my father and he told us that the water was over their heads.
Did you come here with other family members?
I came originally with six people, my children, husband and other family members. Now two have already gone back home. The military arranged for them to go back. But we were told we would have to pay B1,000 per person.
Will you received any compensation?
We were told that homeowners would receive B5,000 per person but as I am not the owner of my house I don’t think I will receive this. I have lived in that house all my life and all of my belongings are lost. I believe that they will not give me the money because they will say I am not the owner.
How do you find the conditions here?
I was originally at Thammasat [Rangsit Campus] and I liked it there better as it was closer to home. Also there were 3,000 people there which is fewer than the 4,000 here [Rajamangala Stadium]. What is good here is that there are enough supplies and we are well provided for. I have a baby and we receive a good amount of baby supplies.
36, factory worker now at Rajamangala Stadium
How did you end up here?
I’m from Ayutthaya. We heard about the floods coming but there was nothing we could see, so we went to sleep thinking it would arrive the next day. At midnight, we awoke to the water rushing into our house. We started packing and trying to salvage our things. Finally, we finished packing by 4am. Then me and my two children left but there was so much traffic that we had to take the army truck to Thammasat. We arrived at Thammasat on October 12, spent 10 days there and then seven days here [at Rajamangala Stadium]. It’s hard to believe that it has been more than two weeks already.
How is life here?
There are definitely enough supplies for everyone but the most difficult thing is equal distribution among the 4,000 people here. At first, we did not get any clothes so we had to use whatever we brought with us. They would give us washing powder and we washed our clothes in the bathrooms. But finally, I just received this bundle of clothes so I won’t be needing to wash so often.
Are you well informed about the flood situation?
I have heard that the Hua Mark area will also flood so they are offering us the chance to move to other provinces, but you have to go when they decide and only with the military. I also heard that 4,000 people are being moved around to different shelters in Korat and other places every day. Last I heard from my province, the water was about waist level and was receding slowly, also that some roads are beginning to clear. I want to to go home now but the military is charging B1,000 per person to arrange for you to get home and I do not have any money to pay.
Will you receive any aid?
They said that if your house is completely destroyed you will receive 75% insurance but no one is coming around to ask you how much you have lost or how much you need to rebuild. This month I will get paid even though I have missed many days of work, but next month my salary will be according to my work hours. But as my factory has been affected by the flood waters, I am not sure if I will be able to find work once I return home.
32, volunteer at the Rajamangala Stadium’s relief center
What brought you to this center?
I am from Ramkamhaeng and my area didn’t flood. I am one of the staff here. I feel good working here. After a long day I feel useful and like I am helping people. Sometimes I go home around midnight.
How is the general mood?
They are all very stressed and mainly looking forward to going home. There have been lots of doctors and psychologists coming around to check on them. There are even celebrities that have come to talk to the people; like Aum Patcharapa came the other day. Everyone really enjoyed that.
Are you getting enough supplies?
Although we have been receiving lots of supplies and donations, there is still a constant lack of basic items such as water, sanitary pads and bras for women, as well as towels and milk powder for children. I believe there have been some volunteers, evacuees and even outsiders that have been hoarding items, especially water.
What is your assessment of the relief efforts?
The biggest problem has been the executive decisions: there seems to be difficulty making decisions about how to deal with the flood waters. Also water management was poorly controlled.
Any advice for the evacuees?
Although these floods are terrible, from what happened, I see the kindness of people and their willingness to help. Every day I see ordinary people and children coming to help each other and volunteer. It is important to stay strong during this situation and trust in the goodness of the people to help you.
67, owner of a small food store, now at Rajamangala Stadium
How has your home been affected?
I am from Ayutthaya. I have lived there all my life. At first we knew that the water was coming so we began to set up tents and things to block the water. However, when the water began coming over the barriers we moved to a nearby temple. We stayed there two days and then even the temple began to flood and we were asked to move to a different section of the temple grounds. Finally that flooded as well, so we decided to go to a local Tesco. Of course, after a while, Tesco also began to flood and then we began to realize how bad this flood really was. After this, the military arrived and my family and I were all taken to Thammasat.
How were the facilities at Thammasat compared to Rajamangala Stadium?
At first, the facilities there were really good: we had more space as there were fewer people and plenty of food and water. But then the floods started to arrive there, the power went out and there was less food for everyone. After this, they began moving people to different centers and they gave us a choice as to where we wanted to be relocated. I am with my whole family so they sent us here because it has more space. I came here with eight people from my family. Here, the facilities are good, we have a lot of supplies and we have been receiving items such as food and clothing.
How do you feel about the current government’s role in dealing with the floods?
I don’t know if they acted as quickly as they should have. I doubt that we will ever receive enough compensation to rebuild our house and our livelihood.
What has been one the most difficult thing about this for you?
The hardest thing for me and everyone here has been the shock of seeing your house and all your possessions completely underwater. Seeing the water level going above my roof will be something I will never forget. I also want to go back home and rebuild my life and start working again, get back to my normal lifestyle. My greatest worries right now are getting the
funds for me to rebuild my home.
32, bank employee
How was your house flooded?
My mom, dad, aunt, grandma and I live together in Klong Sam, Pathumthani. At first we planned to stay in the house even though the flood was coming but when the water finally got here, it took only one day to fill our house and reach 50cm. Four of us decided to move out with my grandma who is 96 years old. We moved to our relative’s house in Don Muang but, unfortunately, that place got flooded seven days later. I had to move again to Klong Ha in Pathumthani. My dad later moved out from Klong Sam with one dog after the water reached 1.5 meters. Now they all live in Don Muang, 13 people in one house, while I live in an apartment in Thong Lor that my bank rents for me because I still have to go to work.
How is your family?
They are OK right now because they live on the second floor but it’s getting harder to find food. We got a little help from outside and we still can find some food in the street which is often B10 more expensive than usual. I worry that if the flood stays, they might not have anything to eat.
What do you think about this disaster?
I think it’s man-made. They miscalculated the amount of water in the dams and we got a weak government who failed to manage things. They don’t have real experts to manage this and all they do is panic people. All they say is, “You should evacuate.” But I don’t see any support for the evacuation plan. I also think we need more soldiers to help people. It’s not enough. Even the Flood Relief Operation Center (FROC) can’t cope. I went there to help pack stuff but some of the relief bags didn’t have the complete list of goods or were damaged.
Will you get compensation?
I don’t expect I will. I sent a claim but I haven’t gotten an answer yet. But to be honest, B5,000 won’t cover all the damage. It would be great if the government’s banks could give cheap loans to affected people.
26, advertising creative and volunteer for the Office of the Consumer Protection Board
How did water reach your house?
My family lives in Bang Bua Thong. Two weeks ago, I came back home to my parents and found that the road to my village was already flooded. I had to ask for some help from a car to even get home. People in my village were very fast to react: they shared the cost on sand bags and water pumps to keep the whole area dry. It did work at first, but water started to come through the walls from the back of our houses, and then up through the water pipes in our toilets and kitchen. I felt like everyone was playing a kind of plug-the-hole game to save their homes. Finally, the water found its way through tiny cracks in the tiled floor.
When did you decide to move out?
When the water started to sneak up through the tiles and cockroaches began to stream out from the pipes in the toilet. My parents believed we could still save the house, but me and my siblings argued with them. My dad just had heart surgery and it wasn’t worth the risk. We waited until water reached the first step of the stairs, cut the electricity off and told our parents we had to leave. It was too late to use a car so my dad asked for help from his friend who had a boat to pick us up. It was hard to resist the urge to take every single belonging with us, but we had to worry about more important things—life.
Where did you go?
We stayed at our cousin’s house. Now my parents are taking a vacation in Prachuapkirikan. I have nothing left to worry about, so my siblings and I are back at work. I’m staying over at my office.
You also volunteered.
I work for the Office of the Consumer Protection Board, so my office is actually one of the help distribution centers for flood victims at the moment. Donations come here and are distributed later to the flooded areas. My friends and I are also working on this Sunshine After Flood project to caution people on how fast and how bad the flood can affect them if they aren’t prepared enough. My family was so “chill chill” at first and now we’re the victims ourselves. It’s better to leave the house, securely locked and prepared, than to leave on a boat.
See Pagorn’s video and other flood projects at http://tinyurl.com/3oamnkp or www.facebook.com/sunshineafterflood
28, freelance writer
In which area is your house located and how many family members live with you?
I live in Pinklao with my sister, maid and my maid’s family in the same house. My mother also lives with us but is out of town for the time being.
How did the floods arrive at your house?
The flood started coming at night from out of the drainage pipes on the road. The water levels kept rising and falling at intervals of about ten minutes. The next morning the water levels had receded from the day before but then in the afternoon they had risen higher again. This was basically how the floods kept coming until we were calf-deep in water. It came into our garden and ground floor by going right through the sand bags we had set up. Finally that night we decided it would be a good time to evacuate. We wanted our housekeeper and her family to come with us but they felt more comfortable staying behind, so they remained at the house and also looked after our five dogs. I felt we were well stocked up on water, sand bags, dry goods and so on; enough for those staying behind. Friday morning, my sister and I got a ride to a dry road thanks to our neighbor who had a truck that could drive through the water. We spent the night at a friend’s house and then left to Chiang Mai the next day.
What is the state of your house now?
The toilets are working and the power is still running. Last I heard, the water around my area is waist level. I am worried about the risk of disease and electrocution for those who stayed behind.
What do you think of the way the government has been dealing with the floods?
The current floods have been around for a month already, not to mention that once a year some province in the country experiences a flood. The Thai government should understand the importance of flood preparation and management. It’s crazy that people have just been focusing on the most recent weeks of the flood just because it’s finally starting to enter Bangkok and affect the city-dwellers. I believe that the government should stop worrying about day-to-day events and consider what is needed throughout the country to help the flood victims and prevent this disaster from happening again.