Phnom Penh Municipal officials this week began readying an emergency-flood response team of 6,000 people, despite the Mekong River’s low level and reports that it is unlikely to threaten the city this year, officials said Aug 21.
Officials met Aug 20 to prepare for flooding or flash floods that could originate from Kompong Speu province and affect the city, Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said.
The response team, made up of city employees and volunteer residents, could be deployed by commune officials to sandbag the river, provide medical assistance and facilitate evacuations, he said. “Any flood threat to Phnom Penh is no problem,” he said, adding that the city is stockpiling sandbags, medicine for water-borne illnesses and supplies for emergency shelters.
Nhim Vanda, first vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said he is pleased City Hall has begun preparing. “We do not fear flooding [now] because we have adequate abilities to control it.”
The Mekong is unlikely to pose a threat to the capital this year, according to Mao Hak, director of the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology’s hydrology and river works department.
The river, which had a maximum depth of 8.19 meters in Phnom Penh on Aug 21 morning, is projected to reach a depth of 10.45 meters in September and early October—and only at a depth of 10.5 meters is it considered alarming, he said. “We have no worries about flooding from the Mekong River or from the west in upland Kompong Speu province,” he added. “But it is normal to make all preparations.”