Prey Nop district, Preah Sihanouk province – As heavy storms continue to strike here, roads are being left damaged and residents are being evacuated to safety after three people died and a sinkhole opened on National Road 3.
Last week, the Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry warned that coastal provinces such as Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong will be affected by floods, especially along National Road 4.
Over the weekend, major parts of the province, including Sihanoukville and Prey Nop district, were hit.
Sun Phan, a security guard who works at a construction site in Buon commune, yesterday said he woke up at about 12.30am surrounded by water.
“I was sleeping on my bed then I felt something strange. Why was it so wet?” Mr Phan said. “I opened my eyes and saw my room was flooded.”
“I was scared and I ran to the third floor,” he added. “I left all my belongings behind.”
He said that the recent collapse of a building under construction in Sihanoukville that killed 28 people made people concerned about disasters.
“Everything is wet, especially my rice, which I don’t think I can cook anymore,” Mr Phan said. “The incident at the collapsed building in June made people concerned about natural disasters.”
Storms that began last week have so far killed three people.
Major General Chuon Narin, chief of provincial police, identified one of them as 45-year-old Chinese national Chia Qing Qing, who was killed on Friday after a wall collapsed at a brick factory in Prey Nop district.
He added that two Cambodian constructions workers were also killed in Sihanoukville’s Muoy commune on Thursday.
“The workers built a small shelter near a brick wall,” Maj Gen Narin said. “As a result of heavy rain, the wall collapsed and crushed them.”
Electricité Du Cambodge yesterday announced that it had to cut off power in some areas in Sihanoukville, including Buon commune.
Most of the flood water in Sihanoukville receded yesterday and provincial Governor Kuoch Chamroeun ordered his subordinates to use excavators to repair drainage systems.
About 40 kilometres away from Sihanoukville lies Prey Nop district, where parts of National Road 3 in Veal Renh commune were still flooded and a large sinkhole had opened.
Members of security forces were on standby to help residents navigate their vehicles through the floodwater.
Prey Nop District Governor Sar Kackada yesterday monitored National Road 3 along with his subordinates. Mr Kackada said the road has been hit by floods since last week.
“Since August 9, floods have hit Choeung Kor commune,” he said. “The water flowed to National Roads 3 and 4.”
“Joint forces, made up of district police, military police and the navy […], totalling 300 people, came to intervene to secure a temple,” Mr Kackada said. “Floodwater is flowing across the main road. We urged motorists to stop and our forces transported their bikes to a safe area.”
“If the situation worsens, we will continue to carry out our duty, just like we did in the past days. We will be on standby 24 hours a day if the floodwater does not recede,” he added. “At night, our forces will need to patrol along National Road 3 to make sure no one drowns. We have control of the situation.”
Mr Kackada said nearly 200 families were evacuated on Friday, noting that damages can only be assessed after the water has receded.
“I can say that so far, no one in my district has died of starvation,” he said. “I appeal to each traveller to please pay attention to safety.”
“Our forces will standby in those risky areas in order to intervene,” Mr Kackada added. “If your home is flooded, please beware of poisonous snakes and take care of your health and your children.”
The floods have also affected a school in Sihanoukville.
Roberto Panetto, an administrator at the Don Bosco Foundation of Cambodia, yesterday said one of his schools was hit by floods on Friday, noting that the road in front of his school rose by a metre.
“I started to relocate our equipment and documents as high as I could in my office,” Mr Panetto said. “The water outside is one-metre high; the doors were sealed shut inside to try and prevent flood waters from rushing in.”
“It’s too early to estimate damage, but I presume it will be close to a million dollars,” he added.
A 30-year-old man who refused to be named said his house has been flooded for two days and that the water in front of his home is 1.5 metres high.
“As you can see, the floodwater is very high. It also flooded the electricity meter in front of my house,” the man said. “I am very concerned because I thought it might shock people in the area. I am also concerned for the safety of children because they could drown.”
Other provinces have also been affected by floods, including Ratanakiri where a 15-year-old girl drowned on Friday.
Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, yesterday said more than 2,000 families in the provinces of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Kampot were evacuated from their homes.
“Seven provinces have been affected by heavy rainfall and the most serious flooding occurred in Preah Sihanouk, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Battambang,” Mr Vy said. “At least four people have died because of floods.”
He said that 1,176 families have been evacuated from Ratanakiri’s Koun Mom and Lumphat districts. He noted that yesterday, 307 families were evacuated from Mondulkiri’s Koh Nhek district.
He added that 264 families in Kampot city’s Toek Chaou district were also evacuated.
“The authorities are working hard to rescue citizens across the country,” Mr Vy said.
Kun Kim, first vice president of NCDM, on Friday helped evacuate people in Ratanakiri province. About 70 boats were deployed to affected areas.
“The most vulnerable people that we must evacuate are the elderly, children and those with a disability,” Mr Kim said. “The floods came from Vietnam. It might take between seven and ten days for the water to dry.”
The Communicable Disease Control Department yesterday published a series of instructional videos for residents on how to protect themselves from diseases during floods.
“Because ministries have warned about flooding in some provinces, the department wants to share the educational messages about diseases that can spread during floods,” it said in a statement attached to the videos.
A total of three instructional videos were published.
According to one video, in order to avoid contracting a disease, water must either be boiled, filtered or mixed with chlorine before it is consumed. It also instructs residents on how to maintain hygiene.
“You’ll have to frequently clean your hands with soap or clean water to prevent diseases, especially before touching food or feeding children,” it said. “Go to the nearest health centre of hospital if you are sick.”
In another video, the CDC instructs parents to keep a close eye on their children.
“Parents, do not allow children to swim or play without supervision during floods,” it said, adding that villagers must put up warnings near deep bodies of water.
In the third video, the CDC said residents must also be wary of animals.
“Please, be careful when walking in a forest or on higher grounds because there are snakes,” it said, adding that someone who is bitten by a snake must immediately be sent to a hospital or clinic.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday issued a statement on his Facebook page about the current floods striking the Kingdom.
“People are at risk of rising water,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Please keep an eye on the news and be careful when going fishing or driving because the provinces are facing floods.”
Back in Prey Nop district, resident Tat Meng Neang yesterday said authorities have done well aiding people.
“Our belongings were under floodwater – my motorbike broke after the flood,” she said. “I thank the authorities for coming to intervene and saving our lives.”
Khorn Thy, 34, said police had to use a truck to transport his motorbike through a flooded area along National Road 3. He noted that he is worried about his children when they are home alone.
“The flood water is everywhere, I can’t even ride my motorbike on a highway,” Mr Thy said. “I have two children at home – six and three. When I go to the market I get very concerned because they might go swim in the flood water.”
“My wife is a garment worker and she had to take days off to look after our children,” he added.
Additional reporting by Mom Kunthear