Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Worsening floods drive Dangkor residents from their homes

People carry their belongings out of their flooded home in Dangkor district's Kongnoy commune in Phnom Penh, October 26, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan
People carry their belongings out of their flooded home in Dangkor district's Kongnoy commune in Phnom Penh, October 26, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

Families living in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district have been forced to leave their homes after the Prek Tnaot river overflowed. Authorities have also said that the 7 Makara Dam in the city’s south has also been leaking after being damaged by the high level of rainfall.

In a flooding alert released by the Phnom Penh Department of Public Works and Transport on October 27, residents of Kongnoy, Tien, Spean Thmar, Prek Kampoes and Roluos communes in Dangkor district were asked to evacuate from their homes and find shelter immediately.

Vy Chim, a 66-year-old resident of Sarey Sambath village in Kongnoy commune, is one of the locals who left his home ahead of the flooding. Chim said that the flooding had begun around October 20, forcing him to seek shelter in an abandoned house after his own was flooded under more than four meters of water.

“This year the water level has risen rapidly, which made it hard for us to take our properties out on time,” he said. “Clothes, our bed, the sofa, as well as animals have been left. We could only escape with ourselves when the floodwaters started rising.”

Life in the temporary housing has been hard on Chim — there’s no running water, or a toilet to use. But with the waters still rising, he said, he didn’t have any other choice.

Kun Sophea, 30, lives along the side of Dangkor district’s Prek Chrey river. For days now, she said, her house has been surrounded by water.

“It’s quite a big challenge for us to live here while the water level keeps rising,” she said. “My house is now surrounded by water. It is difficult. There is no toilet to use, as the water has covered it up. More importantly, I am worried about poisonous animals as well as the safety of my two little children, who are now aged under five.”

“I am now living here unpleasantly, and I want to move somewhere else for a while until things get back to normal,” she said. “But due to the shortage of money, I cannot go anywhere. I have to keep living here.”

People carry their belongings out of their flooded home in Dangkor district’s Kongnoy commune in Phnom Penh, October 26, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

Phum Oeun, a 59-year-old woman living near the Prek Chrey bridge in Spean Thmar commune, said she is worried that her house could collapse if the water keeps rising.

“It is a big concern to me if the flood keeps rising,” she said. “And I am worried that it could make my house fall down, as it is located near the river.”

Kongnoy commune chief Un Sok Rom told CamboJA that 473 families — 2,162 people in total — have been affected by the ongoing flood as of October 26.

He said that four main villages in his community are currently flooded, with eleven families having been moved to a safe place.

‘’The community often suffers from floods, as it is located near Prek Tnaot river,” he said. “During these last few years, we have been severely affected, and this year the flooding has appeared more aggressively, which possibly could cause plenty of problems for residents living here.”

Sok Rom said that among the 473 families affected, about 200 families are likely to have been badly affected by the flood, with 970 hectares of rice fields and counting underwater.

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey told CamboJA that due to a leak in the 7 Makara Dam Tien and Spean Thmar communes have been severely affected by flooding.

“Because of the leak at 7 Makara Dam last night, the water has been flowing hugely and flooded people who live along the river, especially Tien and Spean Thmar commune,” he said.

Starting from October 25, authorities decided to temporarily stop traffic for trucks on roads 20A and 104 from Kour Srov roundabout to Kampong Kantuot market due to the rising water.

“It’s really concerning because it’s a natural disaster, we cannot evaluate 100% of impact,” Measpheakdey said. “We try to prevent, protect and solve with all our heart for citizens. It’s always updated, from flooding to the leaked dam.”

Cambodian soldiers pack sand and soil onto a street to prevent flooding at the Kongnoy commune in Dangkor district, Phnom Penh, October 26, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

Kampong Speu governor Vei Samnang said that there had been no rainfall and the river had dropped by 2cm compared to yesterday. If there were no more storms, he said, the situation would soon be back to normal.

“The flood has destroyed 45 hectares of rice paddies, fourteen roads have been partly damaged, and people who live along the river, mainly older people and children [have been affected],” he said.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, told CamboJA that flooding could cause both long and short term damage. If there are no effective solutions in coping with the ongoing flooding, he said, people’s safety and properties will be at high risk.

‘’I personally think different parties including the government, private sector, and NGOs should join hand in hand in providing emergency support to those who have been affected in the flooding disaster,” he said.

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