Flood Damage Much Greater Than 2001’s

The total damage of this year’s floods may be nearing $40 million—more than two-and-one-half times the cost of last year’s deluge—officials said Sunday.

The government estimated more than a week ago that the total cost of this year’s floods was $38 million, International Feder­ation of the Red Cross Head of Delegation Anthony Spalton said Sunday.

If true, that dwarfs the estima­ted $17 million in damage from floods in 2001.

Except for two places in Viet­nam’s Mekong Delta, the rest of the region’s water levels had slipped back either to normal or to a Warning Stage, the Mekong River Commission Web site reported Sunday. The only two measuring stations reporting alarm levels Sunday were in Cambodia, one at Koh Kel, along the Tonle Bassac and the other at Neak Luong on the Mekong River, the MRC Web site stated.

With the receding waters, people have begun returning to their homes to clean up, Spalton said.

“You can see the numbers have gone down,” he said.

At one point, the government reported as many as 167,000 people had been displaced by this year’s floods.

Around the country, though, officials have been reporting a higher death toll from the floods and related weather.

In Prey Veng province, one of the hardest hit by floods, at least 10 people had drowned and an­other three had been killed by lightning, First Deputy Governor Chhay Sareth said.

In Kompong Cham province, 15 have drowned, Deputy Gover­nor Mao Phirun said.

In Kratie province, two children have drowned, according to Kratie Deputy Governor Vorn Chunly.

In Phnom Penh, Ma Tola, 5, drowned Saturday as he swam in front of the Royal Palace, Deputy Police Chief Ouch Thorn said.

The Cambodian Red Cross has been handing out food, bed mats and kramas to victims, even as in­ter­national and national aid agencies meet this week to decide what the country’s exact needs are, Spalton said. Author­ities want to be careful to match an im­pending global appeal for aid with the country’s needs, he added.

“Because it’s the third consecutive year of floods and because of the drought, we need a more sophisticated understanding,” Spalton said.

This year’s drought is likely to be the biggest weather culprit, auth­­orities say. Before the country’s rivers began flooding, only 37 percent of the rice crop had been sown, the government reported. Officials will convene more studies in October to find out just how bad the long-term food crises from the weather is going to be, Spalton said.

 

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