Floods Recede, Thousands Return Home in Pegu Division, Mon State

By San Yamin Aung 14 August 2014

RANGOON — More than 16,000 people who were displaced after severe flooding hit Pegu Division and Mon State last week have returned home, according to officials and community leaders, who said that those who went back to their villages are still in need of aid.

Continuous heavy rains caused local flooding in the two regions since mid-July and last week the Pegu, Sitthaung and Thanlwin rivers broke their banks, inundating roads, towns and villages in large parts of Pegu Division and Mon State.

A Pegu Division Relief Management Committee official said some 3,500 families, or 16,770 people, were displaced in his region and stayed in 18 relief centers for five to six days until floods receded and the Pegu River dropped below danger levels earlier this week.

“All people at relief centers are returning to their homes. Around 90 people are left in a relief center and they will return soon,” said the official, who declined to be named.

Thaung Shwe, an official from Mon State’s Disaster Relief Department, said several thousand people had been displaced by flooding in Kayikhto, Belin and Thaton townships.

“There was flooding from Aug 5 to 7, but people have gone back to their homes and have been leaving the relief camps since Aug 8,” he said, adding that the displaced had not suffered any serious problems as authorities had provided residents with food and health services.

Mar Mar Khaing, chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Thaton Township, said, however, that the problems for the displaced residents were not over as their homes and belongings had been damaged, adding that poor families would struggle to replace student textbooks, clothes and other lost items.

“People from relief centers have returned back their homes, but most flood victims are urgently in need if support. If not, they will not be OK,” she said, adding that a lack of clean water was a particular concern because nearly 1,200 wells used by 600 families were contaminated with floodwater in three villages in Thaton Township.

“There were distributions of water purification tablets but these could not cover the whole area,” Mar Mar Khaing said.

Khin Win Maw, an official at the Department of Meteorology, said she expected that the amount of rainfall would gradually decline as the rainy season winds down, adding that only the central region would see more downpours.

“The rains will continue this week in the whole country, but the rain will be concentrated in the central region,” she said, adding that authorities would broadcast regular weather forecast so the public can monitor the situation.