Remember, all those years ago when heavy rain caused mini flash floods in Singapore? At that time, due to the sudden torrential downpour, many places in Orchard Road were subjected to rapidly rising water levels that eventually ended up as floods. Of course, we also remember how the Singapore government went above and beyond to dismiss the term flood and instead use the word, ‘Ponding’. I’m just glad they decided to not use that word after what happened yesterday in the eastern part of Singapore.
Some residents in the eastern parts of Singapore woke up to face the murky brown water, coming right up to their doorsteps. "The water came into the driveway, up to the front of my car," said retiree Mr Lim, who lives along a stretch of terrace houses along Jalan Greja. The low-lying residential area in Bedok was one of those affected by the flash floods on Monday. “I’ve lived here for over 30 years. This is the worst flash flood we have experienced,” said the 67-year-old.
According to the national water agency PUB, the ongoing improvement works to the drainage system will solve this problem, once it is completed. An investigation into the flooding showed that the drainage system was working at 100% and there were no reports of blockages, yet one of the worst floodings in recent history still happened. PUB said that that the high tide, coupled with the heavy rains contributed to the flooding as the drains were not effective in controlling the extra water.
PUB explained, “During high tide, seawater can flow into the canal, but water levels are manageable without heavy rainfall. With a mid-tide level this morning, it could have aggravated the flooding at locations near Bedok Canal. Eight of the locations where flooding occurred is where three main improvement works are ongoing, said PUB. The works are slated to be completed between the third quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2019”.
“You can be very sure that when drainage improvement works are completed, the situation will definitely be improved,” said Mr Yeo Keng Soon, director of PUB's Catchment and Waterways Department.
Well, what has happened cannot be undone. The damage to private property and personal vehicles cannot be reversed. Of course, we cannot blame the government for the heavy rains, we can’t blame mother nature or ‘God’ for it either, the question is where do we go from here? The weather station has predicted more heavy rains over the month of January and if these improvement works will only be completed next year, what can we do to make sure no more damage is suffered by anyone. Damage to property is one thing, but can you imagine if an elderly person or child is suddenly swept away by a flash flood that emerges from the overflowing drains?
For now, all we can do is remind people to be extra careful when they are walking near these huge canals. If there are heavy rains and they witness the water levels rising, they should stay away and maintain high ground at all times. We should thank our lucky stars that no one was injured or worst still, drowned in the flash floods.