Cows, buffalo and pigs are sharing this year’s Pchum Ben holiday with worshippers in Khsach Kandal district, Kandal province.
Flooding throughout the entire district just north of Phnom Penh on the east side of the Mekong River has forced many farmers to herd their animals toward the somewhat higher ground at pagodas.
“This is the biggest flood I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Mao Sun, a 34-year-old farmer who moved his animals to Prek Krabao pagoda. “My cows have been eating rice at the wat for some time, plus some banana tree and a little hay.”
While all major roads remain covered with as much as 1.5 meters of water, villagers—seven to 10 at a time—are taking small boats to the pagoda to bring their holiday food offerings to the monks, who will then dedicate them to the donor’s ancestors.
“I cannot wear shoes or a nice uniform to the pagoda this year, because I’m afraid they would get dirty if water got in our boat,” 18-year-old Pao Chanda said.
At least one homeowner in Kleang Moung Kang Tbong village decided to act before floodwaters destroyed his house. “I’m going to move my house,” 32-year-old Dosh Don said. “The way the water is flowing right now, my house would fall.”
At least 86 houses have fallen in Lvae Em district, which has suffered what Kandal Second Deputy Governor Rom Tek Mony calls “100 percent damage.”
Cambodia Red Cross President Bun Rany is planning a trip to Ponhea Lea district on Sept 22 to donate foodstuffs to 1,213 families. Her husband, Prime Minister Hun Sen, plans a Sept 25 visit to Puk Russei commune, to provide food for 3,571 families.
Rom Tek Mony said Kandal province officials are prepared to spend between $40,000 and $50,000 on relief once water levels recede.
The water level did go down another 0.32 meters upstream at Stung Treng, but it rained there all day Tuesday. The levels remain unchanged at Kratie and Kompong Cham. Water rose 0.04 meters in Phnom Penh to 11.17 meters, and forecasters say it will probably stay level for the next three days.
Kampot province Governor Ly Sou said the road up Bokor Mountain has been impassable for the last five days, and that portions of the road have been destroyed by heavy rains.
The Australian government Tuesday promised $146,000 in flood assistance to be given through the NGO AusAID, while France announced a $20,000 grant for emergency aid to be handed over by the French Red Cross in Phnom Penh.