Flooding takes a toll

Ten days ago, Loun Somaly, 33, left his house to deliver a deposit to the glass workers he hired to replace a window on his rickety sheet metal-panelled house.

Ly Sophal, Somaly’s tenacious three-year-old son, followed him outside, asking if he could join. But with floodwater up to an adult’s thighs in some parts of Banteay Meanchey province’s Teuk Thla commune, he ordered the boy to stay home with his mother, Somaly recalled on Saturday. …

In total, at least 14 people have died during the floods here over these past few weeks, according to the latest provincial National Committee for Disaster Management figures.

But Saturday marked a return to normalcy for many, after floodwater from the weeks of constant deluge was, for the most part, drained by the provincial government.

Flooding in Banteay Meanchey began at the end of last month, when heavy water from rainstorms in Thailand overwhelmed the Mekong River and surged down into the bordering province.

In addition to the deaths, the floods also destroyed more than 200 hectares of rice paddy in the province, said Uch Savon, deputy chief of Banteay Meanchey’s department of agriculture.

Hundreds of families in villages bordering Thailand evacuated their homes as water inundated the province, reaching chest-level in some areas.

On Thursday, the government began draining the water, and most of the evacuees have since returned home, provincial governor Try Narin said.

“Now we’re monitoring community members, because we had to temporarily cut off the water supply and people are still affected by poor sanitation,” he said.

“Provincial authorities will be providing medical care to them.”

Thick, light brown mud strewn with garbage carpeted Poipet town on Saturday morning. Sitting on the bamboo floor of her shack that stands atop stilts, Houn Khean, 37, breastfed the youngest of her seven children, having recently returned home after spending 12 days in the government-mandated evacuation area at Ra Market.

“It was awful,” said her 48-year-old neighbour Hin Ngeth, who also spent 12 days in the shelter crowded with about 200 people from two villages. …