Gov’t Offers Aid to Victims of Flooded Russei Keo District

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.


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