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Businesses, residents more prepared for flash flood ‘season’
The PUB said that it has stepped up checks at construction sites, particularly those that have works at major canals. Close to 30 of these sites are already subjected to checks twice a month to ensure the canals are functioning and unobstructed. | Photo: Najeer Yusof/TODAY
November 14th, 2017 | 09:59 AM | 992 views
After suffering some S$15,000 in losses due to a flash flood on Christmas Eve in 2015, the Roti Prata House along Upper Thomson Road is not taking any chances.
Mr Syed Ridzwan, 40, who works at the eatery patronised mostly by the supper crowd, said: “We used to put our flour and eggs very close to the ground, but now we put them on tables or on the second floor (of the shophouse).”
Business along the stretch of shophouses were disrupted when heavy rains caused flood waters to enter their premises. The knee-deep waters damaged goods and electrical appliances.
An investigation by national water agency PUB later found that Sato Kogyo, the contractor for the Upper Thomson MRT Station — which is part of the Thomson-East Coast Line being constructed — had carried out unauthorised work on the public drainage system.
At a press briefing on Monday (Nov 13), the PUB said that it has stepped up checks at construction sites, particularly those that have works at major canals. Close to 30 of these sites are already subjected to checks twice a month to ensure the canals are functioning and unobstructed.
Inspections will also be more frequent at another 100 smaller worksites near drains and canals, to check for obstructions.
The agency also conducts checks at critical areas such as road tunnels with pumped drainage systems, namely the Marina Coastal Expressway, Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway and the Central Expressway, as well as 16 vehicular underpasses.
Since last month, its officers have been issuing flood advisories to more than 600 residents and businesses in flood-prone areas.
This is in anticipation of rainy conditions brought about by the North-east Monsoon, which typically falls between December and March.
Most of the businesses along the Upper Thomson Road stretch told TODAY that they are optimistic things would not be so bad this time round, going by what they have observed in the last couple of weeks.
Ms Bernice Ong, 30, owner of Salted Caramel ice-cream parlour, said: “We have not been facing much inconvenience or problems in the past couple of days when there was heavy downpour.”
Rainwater flows towards the drain holes outside the shop “quite quickly”, she added.
In January this year, a flash flood struck the area again and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that measures were taken to raise the drainage capacity there. It had been widening the existing canal along Upper Thomson Road and Jalan Keli as part of construction works for the new MRT station, while Sato Kogyo had changed the drain covers to open ones to facilitate the flow of water. Sandbags were also used to prevent water from flowing into the shophouses.
Singapore sees an average annual rainfall of about 2,330mm. During the North-east Monsoon, the average monthly rainfall for December and January is 318.6mm and 234.6mm respectively, compared to the combined average of 161.3mm for the other months of the year, a spokesperson from the Meteorological Service Singapore said.
PUB told TODAY that flash floods have occurred on 12 days this year so far, compared to 10 last year, and six in 2015.
Floods here usually reach about less than 30cm in height and subside in about 30 minutes.
Low-lying areas that are prone to flooding include Lorong Buangkok, Jalan Seaview off Mountbatten Road, Tanjong Katong Road South, and Jervois Road near Alexandra Canal.
Advisories given to residents and businesses in such areas provide information on how to view closed-circuit TV (CCTV) images of road conditions, or to get updates on flood conditions. PUB has 208 sensors installed in major drains and canals here to provide real-time data on water levels. To monitor floods, members of the public may view images from 49 of the 200 CCTVs used for real-time monitoring of road conditions.
Some residents at Jalan Seaview told TODAY that they have seen the PUB advisory, but most said that they do not think their houses would be flooded during the monsoon period. The junction between Tanjong Katong and Mountbatten Road used to experience flooding, but the problem has been resolved years ago, they said.
One resident, who gave her name as just Mrs Sim, 42, said that during her home renovations about 3.5 years ago, the authorities had required that the family build their house on higher ground as a flood prevention measure.
Others such as retiree Teh Geok Chew, 76, said that a flooding incident is unlikely to happen, given that the authorities have “upgraded” the drains and installed CCTV cameras to monitor the situation.
courtesy of TODAY
by Siau Ming En and Cynthia Choo
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