Sunday, June 05, 2011

Flooding in Singapore

For many Singaporeans, when rain falls, the instinctive response was to do a mental check if the laundy hanging out to dry for the day had been retrieved. However, in recent years, the immediate response has started shifting to wondering if there is any flooding occuring.

The most serious case of flooding in Singapore occured in Orchard Road in 2010 when the cross junction at Orchard ION and Wheelock Place became totally impassable and the basement levels of surrounding malls got inundated. The Tessarina in Bukit Timah also made headlines with its basement carpark severely flooded and residents' cars becoming write offs.

The Minister for Environment, Yaacob Ibrahim, then called the event a "freak" event that occurs once in 50 years but yet more flooding occurred after that though not in Orchard Road, leading many to comment that many 50 years have gone by.

Fast forward to 2011, and flooding occured again today near Orchard Road with "waterfalls" being experienced in Tanglin Mall as flood waters got into the building. Areas such as Cuscaden Road, Hillcrest Road, Eng Neo Avenue, Sennett Estate near Potong Pasir, MacPherson, Toa Payoh, and Balestier, Bukit Timah Road and the slip road of the Kranji Expressway towards Woodlands were all affected by the flash floods.

The amount of rainfall that Singapore is getting does not appear to have increased significantly but why is the drainage that had previously been working now failing to drain runoffs quick enough? Despite official assurances to the contrary, many people place their bets on the cause of the issue to be the Marina Barrage which was officially opened in November 2008 since flooding start occuring after that. One theory that appears to make sense is "The barrage is basically a dam retaining water that is suppose to flow into the sea. It causes water tables in Singapore to rise. When the rain comes, the issue it not whether they open up the barrage to allow water into the sea which is already an impeded process but water has accumulated all over the place already to cause sudden flash floods".

For the 2010 Orchard Road flooding, the problem was attributed to choked drains which diminished the flow rate and the authorities committed to making stronger efforts to keep the drains debris free. Let's see if there is going to be any follow up on this latest flooding and the findings.

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