Thursday, August 28, 2008

Businesses need data on storm surge


Businesses need data on storm surge

FTI chairman calls for education on risks


The government should do more to educate the public about storm surge, especially on what should be done as precautions in risk areas, according to Santi Vilassakdanont, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

''The Meteorological Department should educate the public more on the nature of the storm surge, what it could unleash and to what extent,'' he said.

''Factory owners in the risk areas such as Bang Poo or Lat Krabang have no idea what it is as far as I know. Neither have the members of the FTI taken any precaution because they don't know what to do,'' Mr Santi said.

He suggested that the department hold talks so that business owners could properly prepare for its impacts.

''Once we understand what the storm surge is, we can determine its effects on our properties and think of what we need to do to reduce its impacts,'' Mr Santi said.

He also urged the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) to take necessary precautions to avoid or reduce its impacts on plants.

According to an official at the IEAT's Bang Poo emergency centre, the plants in the area could implement two measures to minimise the impacts.

The official said at some point during this rainy season, the sea level could rise 40 centimetres above its normal level.

When this happens, the centre will pump water to other areas to prevent floods into the industrial estates close to the sea.

The factories in the industrial estate should also help themselves by temporarily moving their goods from the ground floors to prevent damages from possible floods.

The official said some plants had already put up sandbags around their properties to prevent floods.

They were also suggested to closely follow reports and warnings issued by the provincial meteorological office.

Residents in the risk areas should also strictly adhere to the meteorological office's suggestions.

''A warning and alert for evacuation should be given at least three to five days in advance. It's important that everyone check the information with the [meteorological] office regularly,'' said the officer, who declined to be named.

But he admitted the centre currently had no suggestion for residents who live near the industrial estates.

''It's too early for us or the meteorological office to identify the risk areas,'' the officer said.

Thavorn Chalassathien, director of Denso (Thailand), which has a production base on Thepharak Road in Samut Prakan, said the company was worried when it first heard about the phenomenon and saw its map.

But he still has reservations about the forecast methods. Even if the forecast is accurate, his plant would be affected only slightly because it is located in an area subject to possible floods of 0.2 to one metre high.

If a warning is issued, it will help people prevent floods by using sandbags.

''For more than three decades since our establishment here, there has never been serious disasters like devastating floods or severe storms in our factory's area,'' he added.

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