Thai floods displace Penn families
Waters have been rising in the capital city of Bangkok since July
October 26, 2011, 11:11 pm · Updated October 27, 2011, 2:49 pm·
Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is underwater. Increasingly high tides, continuous rain and rising river waters have caused the worst floods in half a century, according to CNN.
Many families of Thai students at Penn, including 18 of the 20 undergraduate members of PennThai, the Thai student association, have been affected by the flooding, since all of these students reside in Bangkok.
“My family has moved out of their houses and have moved to their apartments in high rises,” said Engineering senior and President of PennThai Kritithy Vasansiri, adding “the first floor of my house is being flooded as we speak.”
The flood has killed 373 people and has affected more than 9.5 million people, CNN reported from Thai officials.
“There’s a lot of confusion because you don’t know where the water is going to go,” said College and Wharton freshman Rarinthip Supapannachart, adding “all you can do is prepare for the worst, which is worrying.”
Supapannachart said her family, who lives in the suburbs of Bangkok, had to evacuate her grandparents from the city at a moment’s notice because the flood waters had risen unexpectedly.
Flood waters have been rising since July and the waters are not expected to recede from the city for at least another month, according to Vasansiri.
He explained many people have moved their cars and other belongings to higher grounds to avoid floodwaters and have protected belongings with plastic wrap.
“My piano is completely covered in a huge zip block bag,” Vasansiri said.
Members of PennThai have been fundraising for those affected by the floods for the past few weeks.
Chayapong Naviroj, a 2011 College graduate, and his family started a fundraising campaign for flood victims. His family owns a commercial department store in Thailand and is collaborating with the country’s Air Force to set up a foundation to help those in need.
“[The Naviroj Family] is doing a lot of good for these people,” Vasansiri said, adding that the funds PennThai raises will go to this foundation.
The floodwalls around the city are no longer holding up, Vasansiri said, explaining that the entire city was expecting the flood, it was just “a matter of when.”
“It wasn’t a flash flood and it was expected, so people were prepared for it,” he said.
Yingluck Shinawatra, the Thai Prime Minister, offered a public apology for a lack of “advanced notice” about the floods, CNN reported.
“There are many factors beyond our expectation. Informing too early could cause panic and mistakes could happen easily, but people should be alert and closely follow up the situation,” Shinawatra said.