Khouth Sophak Chakrya
The Phnom Penh Post, Tue, 18 October 2016
Thousands of homes in Phnom Penh and Kampong Speu have been flooded after three dams were seriously damaged following two weeks of torrential rain and warnings from government officials.
The homes of 1,637 families in nine different Dangkor district communes have been flooded following severe damage to the three dams, according to a police inspector who asked to be identified only as Panha. An additional 1,367 homes have been flooded in Kampong Speu.
Prek Thnout dam was seriously damaged in one spot – where a section of concrete wall collapsed – and sprung a more minor leak in another yesterday, according to Dangkor District Governor Nut Putdara. On Saturday, Roland Chrey dam in Kampong Speu was damaged, and Svay dam followed suit yesterday evening.
Putdara told the Post yesterday that the damage to the Roland Chrey and Svay dams in Kampong Speu had contributed to the damage of the dam in Dangkor.
“After Roland Chrey and Svay Dam broke in Kampong Speu province, the water level in the Prek Thnout River near Phnom Penh rose dramatically,” he said, explaining that the sudden influx of water was too much for the dam to bear.
Authorities have enlisted local people living near Prek Thnout dam into helping repair the damage to prevent even more serious flooding. They have been unsuccessfully trying to plug the leaks with sandbags and a makeshift earthen berm.
“Now, our authorities are actively trying to repair the dam and prevent further damage by using sandbags, tree branches and soil,” Putdara said.
Earlier this month, Putdara warned villagers to be prepared to evacuate to safe zones on higher land in the event of serious flooding.
Yesterday evening, Chhum Chhin, chief of Baku village in Dangkor district, told the Post that 70 families living in his village have packed their things and moved from their flooded homes to safer areas. They are currently living on elevated roadways and hills nearby.
“We are worried about the flood. I think that if it keeps raining and water keeps flowing from Kampong Speu province, houses, schools and pagodas located in the lowland area near the Prek Thnout River will be flooded,” Chhin said.
In Kampong Speu, authorities reported that flooding damaged the two dams at a total of six locations, causing further flooding that made 20 sections of road inaccessible and destroyed 146 hectares of rice crops.
Kampong Speu Provincial Governor Vi Samnang reported that the 1,367 families in nine communes of Kong Pisei district are experiencing flooding, but said the dams cannot be repaired.
“Now, we cannot block the dam since the current is too strong. So we have to let it flow in order to avoid the serious damage,” Samnang said.