Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Heavy Rains and Flooding Lead to Deaths, Evacuations and Destruction of Homes and Crops

Heavy rain causes flooding on National Road 4 in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district on June 29, 2023. (Kampong Speu’s Administration Facebook)
Heavy rain causes flooding on National Road 4 in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district on June 29, 2023. (Kampong Speu’s Administration Facebook)

Four days of heavy rain and flooding across eight provinces have led to casualties, more than 8,000 homes and 11,000 rice fields damaged and at least 144 families evacuated, according to government officials and a National Committee Disaster for Management (NCDM) report from Tuesday obtained by CamboJA. 

Between July 28 and August 1, Mondulkiri, Koh Kong, Preah Vihear, Kep, Preah Sihanouk, Siem Reap, Kampot and Kampong Speu provinces were all affected by the inclement weather. Seventeen cities were also flooded.

“All the [eight provinces] are affected by the rain,” he said. “The damage [from this flood], we cannot determine how serious it is, but the most affected provinces include Kampong Speu, Kampot and Kep, which just had the flash flood.”

In Kampot province’s Ormal waterfall resort in Makprang commune, one person died and another remains missing after their tent was flooded on the evening of July 29, according to NCDM spokesperson Soth Kimkolmony. He claimed the victims had been warned by authorities about camping in the area. 

He said the flooding affected three districts — Kampot city, Toek Chhou and Kampong Trach districts— in Kampot, leading to 6,480 families affected when 5,762 houses were flooded and 9,000 hectares of rice fields were damaged, the NCDM reported. 

Just before the heavy rains began, Kampot authorities said they would release water from the Kamchay dam, elevating water levels in the Kampot river through Tuesday, Khmer Times reported

In Kampong Speu, 349 houses were flooded and more than 800 hectares of crops damaged in two districts — Phnom Sruoch and Baset district — and 123 families evacuated from those areas, the NCDM reported.

A 35-year-old Kampong Speu fisherman died in Phnom Sruoch district after being caught in a flash flood that flooded seven communes, district governor Horn Piseth said. He said it had rained for a week prior to the flood, but now the water was receding.

“It is a short flood, so some citizens do not leave their homes, but for those who want to, there are police waiting to assist them,” Piseth said. He added that now the district authorities are repairing damaged roads for temporary use.

He continued, saying that it was a flash flood that flooded seven communes in Phnom Sruoch but did not seriously affect people, houses, rice, or roads. 

Heavy rain damaged a dirt road in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district in a photo posted by Kampong Speu’s Administration Facebook on July 30, 2023. (Kampong Speu’s Administration Facebook)

Kampong Speu provincial police chief Sam Samoun told CamboJA on Tuesday that the flood has now receded and people were evacuated to higher ground.

He declined to comment in detail, instead referring to asking the Kampong Speu provincial governor. Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang could not be reached for comment. 

The Ministry of Public and Transport announced on its Facebook Page that some parts of national road 43 in Kampong Speu and a provincial road in Phnom Sruoch commune had also been temporarily closed due to flooding damage. 

Kampot has also experienced flash flooding. Soeng Son, a resident of Kampong Trach district, told CamboJA this was the first year he could remember flash flooding in his Kampong Trach West commune, which had destroyed some roads which were now being repaired. 

“It was raining heavily. We are getting affected. Rice was destroyed by water,” Son said, adding some of the things in his home were destroyed.

Kampot’s provincial director of administration Khut Ousapha said Kampot city, Toek Chhou district, and Kampong Trach district were all flooded by the flash flood, affecting around 30 families, along with the casualty and missing person.

“It is okay; we are better prepared,” Ousapha said. “It was affected for a short period, but there was no damage.”

But the flash flooding cannot flow through canals or sewers due to congestion due to garbage, he added. 

In Ratanakiri province, Lay Denh, administration director of Taveng district, said local authorities are now finding shelters for the district’s 12,000 residents when the expected flood comes. The Sesan river has risen to five meters, while emergency water level would be eight meters, he noted. He estimated 50 families would be severely affected by flooding. 

He added authorities are concerned flooding will occur if it keeps raining continuously, especially combined with the Yali Falls hydropower dam’s opening last week, about 80 kilometers upstream in Vietnam. 

“The district governor, as well as the director of the district disaster committee, was concerned,” Denh said. “He always exhorts and informs the people or the unit to be ready to save the people when it rains, because now it is raining continuously.”