In the latest chapter of the story of Mother Nature’s fury, Thailand has been inundated with flooding lately, partly due to a particularly fierce monsoon season. Thailand’s worst floods in over fifty years have killed almost four hundred people since July and have disrupted the lives and/or displaced more than two million people. Most of the displacement has been felt in the north and central Thai provinces – that is until now.
Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River is expected to overflow its banks this weekend when the nexus of the monsoon rains and an unusually high tide will no doubt spell disaster. Many structures in the city have been sand-bagged for protection, and some particularly vulnerable areas were deserted. Government officials warn that the impact of the coming flood waters could last more than two months, rendering many areas if the city, particularly in very poor regions, inhabitable. In a poor shantytown in Bang Phlad district, small wooden homes were knee-deep in foul-smelling water with trash floating on its surface.
According to Reuters, television footage showed cars and trucks bumper-to-bumper leaving the city but the traffic department said it could not put an exact figure on the size of Bangkok’s exodus because much of its monitoring equipment was under water. Airport and bus departure lounges were also packed. Roads around the Grand Palace, a top tourist attraction, were already partially flooded along with some streets in densely populated Chinatown. A six foot long snake was caught by a taxi driver in front of the Grand Palace, a traditionally popular tourist area. Residents have also had to contend with crocodiles escaping from flooded croc farms.
The financial impact of the flooding will be significant, as Bangkok accounts for approximately 40% of Thailand’s $319 billion economy. Thailand is also Southeast Asia’s biggest auto production hub, and the impact of the floods has already crippled that industry. Ultimately, the floods will likely cut Thailand’s economic growth by one half for this year.
Mother Nature is indeed furious.