Hundereds of families have been evacuated from their homes in Banteay Meanchey province, with about 1,000 more refusing to leave, despite water that is chest-deep in some areas due to Mekong River flooding.
The evacuation of more than 500 families began late last week, as heavy rain in Thailand began overwhelming the Mekong, causing flooding in the border towns of Poipet and Kbak Koh, Poipet Governor Ngor Meng Chroun said.
The families’ evacuation to the elevated Ra Market area occurred after officials had already moved about 50 people to there amid rising flood water following the downpours, Meng Chroun said.
“Flooding, which included heavy rain from Thailand, has never caused this much damage until now,” Meng Chroun said. “Water levels are rising from day to day in that area, that’s why we evacuated villagers to a safe place, especially small children.”
Fifty members of the military police were dispatched around the villages in an effort to find people needing assistance, Poipet military police commander Hom Mut said. They focused on the most vulnerable residents, he added.
“We led our forces to find elderly people, pregnant woman, children, people with chronic illnesses,” Mut said. “We advise other families to be careful of the flood water, and our forces will help them to transfer their property to a safe place.”
Poipet resident Chin Baraing, 45, said that despite evacuating his home, he still worried about other villagers’ well-being in the midst of unsanitary water that could contain poisonous animals and human feces.
“Right now, the water is rising up to the chest,” Baraing said. “We moved to a safer place temporarily so we can more easily travel to work and school,” he said.
Banteay Meanchey Governor Try Narin said he was always ready for the possibility of flooding from Thailand because of the area’s frequent flooding.
Flooding has also affected parts of Thma Puok, Svay Chek, O’Chrou and Serei Saophon districts, Narin said.