Rains Douse Nation; Officials Brace for Floods

In Kandal Stung district south of Phnom Penh, roughly 100 residents watched Wednesday as their roads washed away. They could not sleep for fear their homes would be flooded. And a handful of them had to climb tamarind trees to pick leaves just to feed their cattle.

“The flood has swallowed my village,” said resident Mom So­vath, 22. “We have no place to take the cattle for grazing.”

While not everyone was hit as hard as Mom Sovath, residents of both urban and rural areas are feeling the effects of heavy rains that meteorologists say could take days to slow down.

According to Sith Vannarith, a meteorologist at the Ministry of Water Re­sources , a low pressure stream across southern Indo­china is causing the heavy rains but should let up in roughly two days. “Right now, the situation is of great concern, but we hope it should not be a problem for long,” she said.

Of utmost concern is damage to rice crops, said Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Although he said it is a bit early to fully determine the damage, he warned that if the rain continues, rainy season crops could be se­verely affected and farmers will have to rely on dry season crops.

Relief workers are being dispatched to areas deluged in the northwest, said Peou Samy, secretary general of the National Committee of Disaster Manage­ment Secre­tariat.

He said roughly 300 families were affected by floods but no casualties were reported and workers expect the water to recede within two days.

The team concentrated its efforts in the Pursat province, where they are preparing to distribute nearly 30 tons of rice, Peou Samy said.

In Kompong Speu province, Second Deputy Governor Phork Sam En put residents on “alert,” warning people there and in provinces south that the floods could flow over dams.

However, officials at the department of hydrology confirmed on Wednesday that while the flooding is more intense than usual, river levels peaked Tuesday and should not reach critical levels.

In Phnom Penh, steady rain during the night and Wednes­day morning resulted in flooded streets and homes. Some parts of the city were so flooded that traffic came to a near standstill.

Peou Samy of the National Committee of Disaster Manage­ment noted relief would come soon to Kandal Stung south of Phnom Penh.

But residents wondered whether help would arrive soon enough. “We are worried that if the rain keeps falling, we will have no place to live,” said Kong Noy village chief Kao Yon. “I convinced my people to build a dam and be alert day and night, but it is useless, as the water level is rising, and 90 percent of our rice seedlings were flooded.

“A lot of people have abandoned their houses. I wish the authorities would help us.”

(Reporting by Im Sophea, Chea Sovirak, Lor Chandara, Van Roeun and Kim Chan)


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