Entries in Flood (3)


Bangkok Flooding: Officials Hope Floodwalls Will Protect City

Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images(BANGKOK, Thailand) -- Thai government officials are bracing for the possible onslaught of flood waters Saturday as the capital city of Bangkok secures its floodwalls.

The Thai military has been working around the clock to firm up floodwalls just outside of Bangkok, as the government rushes to stay ahead of floodwaters and save the commercial heart of Thailand.

Prime Minister Yingluck Sinawatra said on Saturday that 10 provinces in Thailand were still at "critical risk" from flooding, but that Bangkok's 9 million residents would likely be spared.

Monsoon rains have swamped more than half of Thailand since July, killing nearly 300 people, and displacing millions more.

Soldiers have widened canals, and built floodwalls to keep the water from spilling south, into the capital.

The worst flood to hit Thailand in decades has now become the country's most expensive disaster, with damages topping $3 billion.

In central Bangkok, the waiting game continues. Paesita Dussaewlnwa, who works at a jewelry store, put up a concrete flood wall last week, and stacked sandbags behind it.

She moved all her products to higher ground, after watching rain pound the capital for days.

"Yes we are concerned. We worry about the water because In Ayutthaya, it is 100 percent flooded, and all of that will come here," Dussaewlnwa told ABC News.

Much of Bangkok lies behind a sturdy system of flood walls, dams and dikes that have been recently reinforced, according to officials.

"I insist that the floods will only affect outer Bangkok and will not be widespread in other areas," Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Friday while touring the city's defenses.

U.S. marines joined the fight on Saturday by bringing sandbags and relief supplies.

"They'll be working of course with the Thai military. This is an important step for us to see how we can help Thailand best at a very, very difficult time," said Kristie Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand.

While the plan to divert water away from Thailand's economic center is working so far, it is little relief for those living outside of it.

In the old capital of Ayutthaya, residents walk through waist-deep water, as they try to save what's left of their homes and businesses.

Volunteers float supplies in, filling boats with water bottles. More than 200 major highways and roads are now underwater.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US offers $900,000 in Emergency Flood Aid to North Korea

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department said Thursday that it is offering to send $900,000 of flood relief assistance to North Korea.

The aid would include plastic sheeting, tents and other supplies to provide housing relief to North Korean areas affected by severe flooding this summer.

The offer is rare, though similar aid was provided last September.  It could be seen as a potential olive branch offer to the rogue nation.

The U.S. is using the "New York channel" at its UN mission to offer the aid to North Korea, which would be distributed through NGOs.   Details still remain to be worked out.

"We have offered to North Korea $900,000 in flood assistance. We are working now, using the New York channel, to ensure that if we go forward with that, that the assistance that we render meets the concrete needs of the North Korean people and will be used properly” said spokesperson Victoria Nuland at Thursday’s State Department briefing.

But the U.S. won’t be offering food relief as part of this package, which is part of another request being considered separately by the U.S. There have been reports that North Korea is once again suffering bad harvests.

Nuland explained the flood relief was easier to deal with: "We have a relatively restricted area of North Korea affected by the floods. They are in need of certain kinds of nonperishable humanitarian supplies that aren't particularly useful to anybody else but flood victims. So it is, one could argue, a less complex problem to solve."  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil the Product of Global Warming, Say Scientists

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- The pictures Thursday from around the world of dramatic rooftop rescues from raging waters make it seem as though natural disasters are becoming an everyday occurrence. But they're not all that natural; climate scientists say man-made global warming is the sudden force behind the forces of nature.

In the mountains of southeast Brazil, more than 340 people have died after fierce mudslides swept away homes. At least 50 are still missing and victims continue to search for loved ones. On the other side of the globe, floods in Queensland, Australia have ravaged an area the size of France and Germany combined.

And in Sri Lanka, officials say flooding there has affected more than a million people, and the death toll has risen to 23. Sewage lines and holding tanks have overflowed in the floods, and a spokesperson for the health ministry there said officials are concerned about waterborne diseases like typhoid and diarrhea.

"If left unchecked, climate warming will continue so the things that we're having hints of now, foretastes of now, will come stronger," Richard Sommerville, a climate scientist at the University of California at San Diego and author of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change, said.

The extreme weather the world has seen is part of a larger trend, he said. "The world is warming up....It's warming for sure and science is very confident that most of the warming is due to human causes."

Every time we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, Sommerville said, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, climate scientists see "the changed odds, the loaded dice that favors more extreme events and more high temperature records being broken," he said.

The decade that just ended saw nine of the 10 warmest years on record, and warmer temperatures mean more moisture in the air. That moisture can fall as torrential, flooding rains in the summertime or blizzards in the winter.

"Because the whole water cycle speeds up in a warming world, there's more water in the atmosphere today than there was a few years ago on average, and you're seeing a lot of that in the heavy rains and floods for example in Australia," Sommervile said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio