Solution to Samui flooding discussed

Source: Samui Express March 23 2007

SURATTHANI deputy governor Vinyu Thongsakul said that deforestation is the main cause of flooding on Koh Samui. He said this after a meeting of provincial and municipality officials to solve flooding in some areas of the island.

The meeting concluded that the solution for floods is prevention of forest denudation, especially where the water sources are located. The Forest Department had surveyed the mountain and forest areas on the island before declaring 23,546 rai or 9,418.4 acres of mountain land as protected forest zone. This means that no forest encroachment or land issuance of title deeds for both possession and ownership rights are allowed. The Land Department is specifically delegated to issue land title deeds according to rules to prevent more land scandals, which had happened before. ‘I asked the Koh Samui municipality to seriously tackle this issue by putting strict measures before building-project permits granted. All matters related to building must be processed according to the Town planning regulations. I noticed that many constructions barricade the natural drainage system and these have destroyed the tropical island look of Samui'; Vinyu said.

Vinyu said Bt 87 million had been allotted to improve the drainage system and upgrading of four bridges.

The meeting also discussed concerns over some people on Samui that have tried to present receipts of their land-fee payments to claim ownership of mountain lands within the protected zone. This has led to land intrusions with buildings reportedly being constructed. In this connection, some officials of the Forest, Land and Police Departments are being investigated for possible connivance.


Flooding and Landslides imminent on Samui

Source: Samui Community newspaper 15 August 2006

Following a series of inspection trips around the Samui Khun Tingchai Rochanaknan form the Department of Natural Resources and Environment recently said that because of continued uncontrolled development, Samui in once again in great danger of flash floods and landslides this year.

According to officials, several places around the island remain particularly susceptible to flooding. There is still only one drain for the whole of Chaweng Beach road, for example, which is surrounded by hotels and resorts set on ground slightly higher than the road surface, and therefore at risk from large amounts of water flowing down from the mountains on the southern side of the airport.

‘Obviously, there is no way that water will drain quickly enough in this area,' said Khun Tongchai. ‘We've also found massive construction on hillsides to the east and west side of the island. The slopes on which the buildings are set are way to steep. Even worse, trees have been cut down to make way for buildings and this will undoubtedly lead to flash floods and landslides'. He added that what is happening now is putting the whole of Samui in great danger. ‘We can expect worse natural disasters in the near future if none of these things change'.

According to Dr. Tongchai, the area north of Samui airport, Baan Bangrak, and Baan Mae Nam are also at risk from natural calamities. He cited both the airport runway and the new ferry pier in Ban Rak as contributing factors, and said that the areas nearby already repeatedly suffer from flash floods. The plains on the northern and eastern side of the island are also face landslides caused by road construction on the mountains and hillsides, and the new bridge in Lamai will prevent floodwaters from flowing into the sea, he added.

Samui has done little in reaction to pre-warning regarding the effects of La Nina, which will result in more heavy storms and flooding this year. Safety checks have taken place on buildings in certain areas, but as yet, no preventative measures have been put in place. ‘It seems impossible for Samui to prevent or minimize the damage caused by storms yet to come'. Said Khun Tongchai. ‘Preparing for the worst case scenario of the effect of La Nina is all we can do'.


Samui declared disaster zone after heavy rain

Source: Bangkok Post Novemeber 2007

The tourist mecca of Koh Samui was officially declared a disaster zone on Thursday after two days and a night of heavy rain inundated the Gulf of Thailand island and grounded all air service.

More than 1,000 tourists were left stranded at Samui airport as torrential rain battered the resort island and other parts of the South. The bad weather grounded planes on Koh Samui and at Surat Thani airport on the mainland.

Tourists and local residents struggled to return to hotels and homes along roads submerged under deep floodwater.

The air force was called in to help.

"We had to use our six-wheel trucks to help them. Otherwise they could not have returned to their hotels and homes on such flooded roads," said Flight Lieutenant Surapong Sarakul.

Surat Thani governor Winai Buapradit declared six tambons and 11 villages on the island disaster zones.

Soldiers were assigned to help people carry their belongings out of flooded areas.

Samui airport was turned into a temporary shelter for stranded tourists as Bangkok Airways, which has a monopoly on all flights in and out of Samui airport, cancelled all its 72 flights yesterday because of the weather.

A One-Two-Go airliner crashed while trying to land during bad weather at Phuket airport less than two months ago, killing 90 people on board, mostly foreign tourists.

Some tour operators did not appreciate the safety precautions being taken by Bangkok Airways.

"The company has not done the right thing," complained a frustrated tour operator on Koh Samui.

"It could have solved the problem by landing their planes on the mainland in Surat Thani province so we could transport people here by ferry and boat."

The island has suffered severe floods since Wednesday night when heavy rain fell across much of the South. After a brief lull, monsoon storms continued to slam the island late yesterday afternoon, hampering efforts to drain water from flooded areas.

Flood waters rose quickly to reach one metre deep in areas of Talad Dow, Talad Laemdin and Chaweng beach, said Koh Samui district chief Adisorn Kamnerdsi.

Chaweng beach road is a seaside thoroughfare often crowded with tourists and is regarded as a key part of the island's business zone.

Officials closed some sections of the main road around the island because of the flooding and at least 10 schools were also forced to close.

Mr Adisorn said local authorities would be able to bring the flooding under control if the rain stopped soon.

However, the Meteorological Department said heavy rain, caused by a low pressure front, would continue to fall across the South for the next two days.

Apart from Koh Samui, floods crippled movement in four districts in Surat Thani and seven districts in nearby Nakhon Si Thammarat province, affecting thousands of villagers.

Nakhon Si Thammarat was hit particularly hard, with over 24 centimetres of rain yesterday, officials said, and over 30,000 people were affected by the floods.

About 20 families in tambon Pakpoon of Muang district were forced to evacuate their homes, Nakhon Si Thammarat's disaster prevention and mitigation unit reported.

Provincial officials were also closely monitoring coastal erosion in tambon Laem Talumphuk in Pak Phanang district where strong waves were pounding the coastline and threatening to destroy some fishing communities.