September 18-23, 2005
From this morning's edition of THE NATION (Bangkok):
TROPICAL STORM 'VICENTE': Bangkok braces for severe floods
Published on September 18, 2005
BMA sets up emergency centre, pumps and sandbags to tackle expected floodwaters. Authorities launched measures yesterday to assist Bangkok residents expected to be affected by severe flooding after tropical storm "Vicente" strikes today. The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) has set up an emergency centre to tackle the impact of flooding. The centre will cooperate with three radio stations to keep people informed with the latest storm news.
In addition, five telephone hotlines will be available for anyone in need of assistance. These are 1644, 1677, 1137, 1555 and (02) 248 5115.About 2,000 pumps have been set up to control flooding in the capital, as well as 1.7 million sandbags, which will be used to prevent water from the Chao Phya River overflowing into the capital, Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin announced.
Prime Minister's Office Minister Newin Chidchob also declared yesterday special services for Bangkok drivers who run into trouble during the storm. A fleet of large forklift trucks will be on standby at 10 stations around the city ready to remove six- to 10-wheeled trucks that hit difficulty. There will also be 130 smaller forklifts available to remove or repair smaller vehicles, he said.
Drivers in trouble should call the 1376 hotline number.
The tropical storm is expected to hit Bangkok today and is expected to cause widespread flooding in the capital from when the BMA's centre will begin operations."Normally, rainfall in Bangkok is less than 60 millimetres and we could drain that water within an hour. However, the continual rainfall we will face today is expected to cause flooding as high as 150mm, making it impossible to drain the water."
The problem might be more serious as most canals and swamp areas are already filled to brimming with water, he said.
Apart from Bangkok, the weather men yesterday warned nine provinces in the East and Northeast to expect to feel the brunt of the tropical storm: Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaew, Chantaburi and Trat.
Fishermen in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand were also warned to expect strong winds for the next four days.
Meanwhile, residents in the provinces of Nakhon Sawan, Phichit and Chachoengsao yesterday were already facing serious flooding.
In Nakhon Sawan, about 500 banana farms in Chum Saeng district were hit by a 150cm-deep flood, forcing farmers to harvest their product early. Subsequently, they had to sell bananas at Bt2 per kilogram instead of the market price of Bt7.
In Phichit, continual rain has caused flooding in the districts of Sak Lek, Muang and Wangsai-phoon. Local villagers accused the provincial irrigation office of not opening the local dam's water gate in time, causing the area to flood.
In Chachoengsao, flooded areas increased to affect 700 families yesterday. Water levels rapidly rose at the rate of 20cm per hour, creating concern that the local dam could break. Local radio stations broadcast a warning to residents to evacuate to higher ground. However, authorities denied at the end of the day that any danger had existed.
Despite flooding in other provinces, Phuket continues to suffer from drought. Deputy Interior Minister Somchai Sunthornvut visited the province yesterday and announced several measures to cope with the water shortage, including using water from old mine reservoirs and diverting water from Ratchaprapha Dam.
Local businessmen said they would invest Bt500 million to produce 10,000 cubic metres of freshwater per day from seawater. The project is expected to in the next six months.
Florida Keys ordered evacuated ahead of Rita
Tropical Storm heads toward southern Florida, Bahamas
Monday, September 19, 2005; Posted: 12:44 p.m. EDT (16:44 GMT)
Rita, as seen from a satellite on Monday at 10:15 a.m. ET, is heading toward Florida at 12 mph.
Only four names remain on this year's National Hurricane Center list of storm designations: Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma.
If those are exhausted, storms will be named in order from the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on.
Source: National Hurricane Center
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Approaching Tropical Storm Rita prompted officials to issue a mandatory evacuation order Monday for all residents of the Florida Keys.
Forecasters expect Rita to strengthen into a hurricane as it churns toward the Keys and the Bahamas.
At 11 a.m. ET, Rita's center was about 195 miles southeast of the Bahamian capital, Nassau, moving west-northwest at nearly 12 mph, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported. Maximum sustained winds were clocked near 65 mph.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Exumas and for Andros Island in the Bahamas and in Florida from Golden Beach southward to Florida City and westward to East Cape Sable. The warning also includes the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas.
About 11:30 a.m. Monday, Monroe County Sheriff's Office and the county Office of Emergency Management expanded an earlier evacuation order for the lower Keys to include the entire island chain.
Tourists were told to leave on Sunday. There are about 80,000 residents of Monroe County, which includes about 27,000 residents of Key West.
Rita could become a Category 1 storm in the next 24 hours, the center said. Category 1 hurricanes have winds of 74-95 mph.
In Key West, Mayor Jimmy Weekley said Monday that although tourists already had been ordered to leave, residents might not be so willing to follow.
"Conch is a mussel and it's a very tough mussel," Weekley said. "So, a lot of the old Conchs here, as Key Westers are known, will not evacuate at all, they will stay and ride the storm out, for various reasons."
National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said Monday that people in some areas still recovering from Hurricane Katrina should be watching Rita.
"This is definitely becoming a concern for the northwestern Gulf of Mexico," Mayfield said. He said the storm could threaten Texas and Louisiana within five days.
"What will determine the steering there is this high pressure system that currently is anchored over Louisiana and Texas -- but with time that's forecast to erode and move to the east and that may let Rita turn up more towards the north. So at this point in time the folks in Texas and even the Louisiana coast need to monitor this very carefully."
President Bush: 'Deep concern'
As recovery efforts from Katrina continued along the Gulf Coast, the possibility of another storm prompted reaction from President Bush.
"There is deep concern about this storm causing more flooding in New Orleans," Bush told reporters Monday during a Homeland Security council meeting.
Rita is the 17th named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season, and with water temperatures in the Florida Straits in the high 80s, it has plenty of fuel.
Forecasters predicted the storm would move over the eastern and central Bahamas on Monday.
In the Bahamas, Earnel Brown, manager of the Baycaner Beach Resort, told The Associated Press that few people on Mayaguana Island had bothered to board their windows or stock up on emergency supplies.
"I don't expect that much trouble," Brown told the AP. "I don't think we're going to have that much damage from it."
'Rita on the rocks, to go!'
Key West streets were quiet Monday morning as Mike Pettengill, 54, packed his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the AP reported. A resident of Stuart, he hoped to beat the rain and traffic heading north and wanted to be able to find gas before stations close or run dry.
"We walked by a bar [Sunday] and heard there was an evacuation. We were totally shocked. I couldn't believe it. Where did it come from?" he said.
Kelly Friend and two workers were boarding up her store in Key West, Audio Video in Paradise Inc., according to the AP. They painted a message on the plywood: "Hey bartender 1 Rita on the rocks to go!"
"Not that we're afraid of the hurricane, but we want to protect our investment," Friend said. "Plus it gives us an excuse to take a day off and drink."
Florida was sending a National Guard cargo plane to evacuate 22 patients from Key West's hospital to Sebring, near Lake Okeechobee, the AP reported. Several critically ill patients already had been evacuated to hospitals in Miami.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency Sunday, activating National Guard troops, authorizing the use of public buildings as shelters and invoking state laws against price-gouging.
A storm surge of up to 8 feet is forecast for the Keys. The storm surge could reach up to 5 feet in extreme southeastern Florida and the northwestern Bahamas.
In Cuba, the hurricane center issued a hurricane warning for the provinces of Villa Clara and Matanzas. A hurricane watch is in effect for the provinces of Ciudad de Habana, La Habana and Pinar Del Rio. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos.
Rita is the third tropical system to emerge from the Atlantic in two weeks. Tropical Storm Philippe was upgraded to a hurricane Sunday night, while Tropical Storm Ophelia was fading into the North Atlantic as it chugged northward off Newfoundland.
At 11 a.m. ET, Hurricane Philippe had top winds of 75 mph. It was centered about 365 miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving north-northwest at about 7 mph. That track was expected to hold for the next 24 hours, the hurricane center reported.
High tide ... 11:17 AM:
PS: The worst is now behind us:
Watcharee's friend (Pen) in Fort Lauderdale recently had her second child. She is shown here with her two kids: Johnnie and Daniel.
Pen has 'dish' TV in her home so she is able to watch five Bangkok channels (albeit with a 12 hour time shift) [*] ... so her house is a popular place to visit for Thai exPats.
[*] This makes it easy to catch up on infomercials during normal prime time ... and prime time shows when you are stricken with insomnia.
PS: This TV 'infomercial' is for an "Extreme Hamstring Stretch Stool".
Faith based in Florida: Buddha, Hindu, Voodoo.
PS: Worship her, too:
This is 'Bangkok on the Intracoastal' [*]. It is a one stop place for Thai Expats who live in this part of South Florida. It stocks thousands of Thai videos and DVDs that range from classical Thai dancing to daily TV soap operas. Watcharee goes there once a week for her 'fix' in flicks.
The very pretty girl sitting on the couch is Namfon [**], the owner's 15 year old daughter.
[*] For those familiar with "Moscow on the Hudson".
[**] 'Namfon' means water from the rain.
PS: Reader J. Salisbury writes from what was once called Rangoon, Burma (now known as Yangon, Myanma): "Can we have a close-up of Namfon?"
PPS: Reader Ning from Bangkok writes: "Namfon's lunch looks very farang."
Hey, she is second generation!
Next: Part IV