By Mong Palatino

Google map of the flooded areas

Compared to the massive flooding disasters in Pakistan and China, the series of floods in Singapore in the past month can be described as a minor catastrophe. But the last serious flooding in the garden city of Singapore was more than thirty years ago, in 1978. Residents are angry and they want answers for the apparent lack of government preparation and response during the freak floods.

 

The “endless” property development in Singapore was cited as one of the causes of the floods, particularly in the high-end enclave of Orchard Road. The Lycan Times explains

Simply put, the recent rains are not extraordinary. The meteorological service has not shown us that rainfall has hit a historical new high. The only engineering we need to look into is all that mindless ‘civil engineering’ as a result of the endless property development in Singapore.

Dr Chan Joon Yee can’t believe that flooding took place in the shopping district of Orchard Road

Flooding is not something new to Orchard Road. It happens every year. It’s just that such incidents never made the news because they were not serious enough to make shopkeepers cry. Finally, things got serious last month. Goods were destroyed. Shops were damaged. Shopkeepers cried. Singapore was shocked.

Orchard Road is the last place in Singapore that should be flooded. In a land of glitzy malls, 2 integrated resorts and extravagant, state of the art NDP displays, submerged cars in a prime shopping district is an utter embarrassment. Still, we were told that we had to accept it. Just once. Never mind.

A senior government minister referred to the flood as an ‘act of God’ and added that no engineering solution can prevent the flooding. The Temasek Review reacts to this argument

No Singaporean is expecting Singapore to be completely flood-free. The question is: is it acceptable for Singapore to be hit by flash floods five times within 30 days? Is this performance acceptable for a self-proclaimed first world government?

Enough of throwing smoke-screens to obfuscate the matter and cover up for their own incompetence

It is a shame that Singapore’s prime shopping district is flooded not only once, but twice in less than a month. How can we be a world class cosmopolitan city when we cannot even get the basics right?

Under the Willow Tree believes it is not enough to blame the ‘intense storm’ for the flooding

Yes, it is obvious that these floods are being caused by “intense storms”. But isn't it precisely the job of a sewerage system to be robust and to be able to withstand these “intense storms”? Isn't it precisely the job of the Ministry of Environnment to build redundancy and flexibility into the system to deal with such events?

The Mind Game probes the implication of blaming God and nature for the flooding

We are mere mortals in a struggle against the infinite power of God and nature. Word choice is extremely important here, since the term ‘God’ brings to mind forces more powerful and uncontrollable than nature.

The implication is that it’s really not the government’s fault, its the space constraints and the will of God. Above all, we simply cannot be perfect. In other words, not much more can be done.

 

Singapore Marina Barrage by ngotoh under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

One of the functions of the Singapore Marina Barrage is to control floodwaters. In the past month, its reliability has been questioned by many writers.

Chen Jinwen thinks that soil erosion worsened the flooding disaster. The proposal is to slow down on construction

The simple solution is to slow down the unrelenting pace of construction, particularly in our flood-prone areas. While discussing the latest flooding, a friend of mine pointed out Orchard road’s ‘makeover’, remarking that “whatever empty space we had is or is going to be taken up by shopping centres”.

New Asia Republic writes that the flood losses outweigh the purported benefits from the disaster

…it is common to hear comments such as “the floods helped the auto repair industry”. There is frequent overlooking of what otherwise the money could have been utilized more productively by the car owners. What seemingly looks like a gain to the auto repair industry is actually a loss incurred by the car owner.

Everything also complain hits the use of sandbags as a flood defense strategy

This sandbag fortification is like peasants in biblical times preparing for one of the impending Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Nonetheless, desperate times call for ugly desperate measures, though stacking up sandbags like you’re engaging in trench warfare and scaring off customers rather than doing business really defeats its purpose of curbing the floods in the first place.

Siew Kum Hong echoes the anger of many residents

I think what has shocked and upset people, are the scope and location of the floods that have been occurring, and the Government's cavalier response so far. Frankly, if the flooding had been limited to the recognised flood-prone areas, I'm pretty sure there would not have been the amount of backlash that has arisen.

But they are not, they are in new areas, including very highly visible Orchard Road, and the Government did not know what was going on and seemed more interested in maintaining its not-to-be-blamed Teflon coating than in digging in and figuring out what really happened — the first step to finding a solution. That was what was most disappointing.

Thetwophilo's Blog uses Google Earth to prove that the flooding was likely the result of ponding, or a “collection of rain water in depressions or basins.” The government has published its official response to queries about the flooding disasters.