Flooding in Prey Veng Turns Landlocked Area Into Island

peam ro, Prey Veng province – Peam Mean Chey pagoda is nor­m­ally a school with 350 students in a landlocked area. Now it is an island, with more than 200 people from nearby Beng Psot village waiting on high ground until the floodwaters recede.

They brought along their farm animals—and their problems.

“My house along the river is gone,” said 56-year-old Chem Yorn, holding his eight-month-old son, the youngest of his seven children. “Two hectares of my rice field have disappeared, too.”

When the water reached knee level in his house, Chem Yorn walked about more than a kilometer to the pagoda to drop off his two cows. Soon the water claimed his home, and he brought his entire family to the pagoda.

“Life is hard,” he said, voicing fear that he was becoming too old to feed his children.

Seang Ran, a 55-year-old wid­ow, and her 47-year-old cousin Seang Mak, aren’t in much better condition.

“I have to catch fish to eat,” Seang Ran said. She said her village received one aid package from Prime Minister Hun Sen. For each family there was 25 kg of rice, 10 packages of noodles, five cans of fish and about $5.

Seang Ran said most of that aid had already gone into people’s stomachs and there wouldn’t be another harvest until next May.

The World Food Program organized a car-and-motorboat trip to Peam Mean Chey to evaluate flood victim needs and invited media members to join them. WFP estimates it has been un­loading 100 tons of flood relief daily at the Sihanoukville port.

Seang Mak is selling water lilies at the pagoda. Her customers buy them for cooking as a substitute for vegetables they don’t have. She lost her house along the river two months ago. On Saturday she earned only 600 riel, about $0.16. “My profit today can buy 1 kg of rice,” she said.

“About one-third of our families had some rice in reserve [when the flooding began],” said Bun Un, the 65-year-old Beng Psot village chief.

Everyone else is waiting for flood aid or making plans to borrow rice from farmers around Neak Loeng, probably at a 50 or 100 percent interest rate to be repaid next May.



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