Experts remain optimistic but huge storms like one on Sunday October 7, experienced in Phnom Penh can still bring traffic to a halt, especially near Wat Phnom which always floods heavily.
With peak flood season past and the water level in the Mekong below average, top
water resources officials are not expecting serious flooding in Phnom Penh this year.
Mao Hak, director of the Department of Hydrology and River Works for the Ministry
of Water Resources and Meteorology, said this week that after measuring water levels
the past two weeks the department determined heavy flooding due to high water in
the river is not a threat.
"It has passed the most dangerous time - the end of September and early October
- when water levels usually rise to its maximum," he said.
The height of the river in Phnom Penh is lower than average this year because of
lighter rainfall north of Cambodia in the area of the Mekong running through Laos
and Thailand. Of the six countries that border the Mekong, Laos and Thailand have
the largest area of river catchment - 25% and 23% respectively, compared to Cambodia's
On October 9 ,the water level at Chaktomuk , the convergence of the four rivers in
Cambodia, was 9.10 meters, or 1.4 meters lower than the warning level of 10.50. It
would need to rise almost 3 meters to get to flood stage.
Hak explained there are four levels of "flood" including small, medium,
large and very large. Small and medium floods are welcomed by farmers because they
make the soil fertile along the riverbank.
Cambodia is in the "medium" stage this year, which is the optimal stage,
However the officials said the threat of "flash flooding" - or a flood
caused by sudden rainfall in one country, always exists at this time of year.
"We are not worried about the Mekong flooding for the time being, but flash
flood is what we need to prepare for because it is something that comes unexpectedly
and there is no way to prevent it. Even though it comes and goes quickly, it is still
devastating," said Hak.
A disaster control official said precautions are in place. Nhim Vanda, first deputy
president of National Committee for Disaster Management, said the committee does
training every year to educate people about flood management and how to observe and
Equipment such as boats and sand are in place along with supplies of drinking water,
food and medicine for disaster management. The committee has an annual budget for
flood disaster management.