The great flood of 2011 here in Thailand, will be something that I will remember for the rest of my living life. Over 600 people lost their lives during the 5 months from August to December 2011, including an elder neighbour & a 6 year old boy from the local school.
Most of these people were caught on mud slides in the north, where villages would just disappear. Here in Singburi province, we were bracing ourselves, as we watched the news, that water would be moving down from the mountains in the north, to the flat lands here in the central province. Here we already had a high water level, with so much paddy fields (rice fields), it can flood in one day with a good rainy day.
But this was different. We could see the devastation that was creeping slowly but inevitably into our lives, houses and schools.
As a community, we pulled together and started to make defense walls along the river banks bad from sand bags. This wall would be 2 meter tall, with a lot of muscle & even more sweat we had accomplished our goal, or at least we thought we had!
During this time of waiting, the orphanages were going along as normal day to day, with volunteers helping out with several jobs, there was only a small number here at that time, between 10 and 15.
Then one day, 5th September 2011, the first trickles of water start coming through & over the bags. Within a day it was ankle deep. Were put an emergency plan together with the head teacher & monks, that all children will have to be moved as soon as possible. Easier said than done.
The next day the water was at my waist. We walked into the orphanage from the main road about 2km away, called for boats & got all the children to safety. They were moved up to the northern temples, the water had finally moved from the north of Thailand into the central planes, so there were no floods in Tak or Chiang Rai. The children were safe, but the worse was still to come.
On the 28th of September, the banks at Sri Udom orphanage on the Choprya River burst and a tidal wave hit the orphanage and submerged the building on the roof 3 meters high. Nobody could get there, not even by boat, it was too dangerous. This was national news, Channel 3 (most popular) News, were there in helicopters filming the devastation below.
We had to wait for 3 months before we could return, to asses all the damage. When we returned, the place was half a meter of mud & was more of a swamp than a school. We got to work, we had 2 week before the children were to return, with help from Bangkok University & Channel 2 news, who were there reporting.
Damage mostly was water, but the toilets & shower rooms at the back had been destroyed to rubble, the computer room & entire computers were destroyed. The new computer room was built by money donated by Thai Bangkok Finance Bank, this why that was built very quickly.
To this day we are still trying to get the place back to its original state, but it will take time. We have many volunteers during the months of July & August, but this is not the same all year around. This week we have 5 volunteers.
It will take time but we have will and are dedicated to getting there.