With this week’s heavy downpours, month-long floodwaters are again rising in parts of Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, while government officials said Thursday that they now preparing to offer aid to thousands of affected residents though a date has not yet been set.
Floodwaters were chest deep in some areas of Russei Keo commune Thursday, according to Russei Keo commune chief Chan Somnang. About 300 families have been forced to travel by boat and temporarily relocate to other parts of the city because, with the sewage system completely flooded, toilets aren’t working and the stench is overwhelming, Chan Somnang said by telephone.
“The flooding is also causing the villagers to get sick because the smell of the flooding affects their health,” she said.
Svay Pak commune resident Chan Toeurng, 50, said his wife is ill because of the constant presence of dirty water, which also means that he can’t leave his house to earn money for his family. “The floodwaters are turning green [with algae] and it is really difficult to live,” he said by telephone.
Local authorities, who have for weeks downplayed the seriousness of the flooding, met Monday and have now committed to rebuilding infrastructure that has been destroyed, Russei Keo Deputy District Governor Kaum Sles said Thursday.
According to Kaum Sles, Phnom Penh Municipal officials also pledged at the meeting to offer health care services at local referral hospitals, and to “eventually” hand out supplies such as rice and other unspecified equipment.
The supplies will be for villagers who live in the four most impacted communes—Russei Keo, Chraing Chamreh I, Chraing Chamreh II and Prek Liep—but a date hasn’t been determined, Kaum Sles said.
The government is attempting to reduce the flooding by using generators to power the area’s drainage system, which was unblocked Oct 21 so that excess water can flow into the Tonle Sap river, he added. “We are trying our best to release the floodwater,” Kaum Sles said.
Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema, Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun and Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment Thursday.