Myanmar’s Commercial Capital Yangon hit by Record Rainfall and Floods

By The Irrawaddy 18 August 2022

Yangon experienced its highest rainfall in 50 years on Wednesday, with almost two-thirds of the city’s townships flooding. Parts of Mon and Kayah states were also hit by floods and landslides, with floodwater reaching as high as three feet in some areas, forcing residents from their homes.

Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon logged a record 6.69 inches of rainfall after hours of torrential downpours through Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Some 21 of the city’s 33 townships were flooded.

One Yangon resident said: “Our house is hit by floods every year, but it is quite bad this time. We have had no information about weather conditions. In previous years, we could make some preparations thanks to weather alerts. But we had no information this year and could not prepare. [The flood is so bad that] we can barely walk on the street. What’s worse, the electricity is out.”

Since last year’s coup, some people have been so affected by post-coup turmoil that they no longer bother to check weather reports and so fail to prepare for natural disasters. At the same time, the junta-appointed Yangon government has done little to improve the drainage system.

An Insein Township resident said: “The rainfall was heavy, but it [flooding] might be partly because the drains are clogged. We have never seen a flood of this scale in my place. This is the first time floodwater has entered my house.”

People helped each other by sharing food and temporarily accommodating others. The junta’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has yet to make any relief efforts.

Yangon authorities said floodwater was being pumped into the Yangon River.

The highest rainfall previously recorded in Yangon over the past 50 years was 5.87 inches, according to the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.

Mawlamyine, Chaungzon, Mudon, Thanbyuzayat, Kyaikmayaw and Paung townships in southern Myanmar’s Mon State, as well as Kyainseikgyi Township in neighboring Karen State, were also hit by floods and landslides.

Residents from low-lying wards in the Mon State capital Mawlamyine had to be evacuated, according to humanitarian workers.

“It is still raining and the floodwater has not subsided. The floodwater has reached as high as three feet in some houses and people can’t stay in their homes. People who live in two-story houses are staying on the upper floor. Others are staying at relief camps opened at monasteries,” said a member of a Mawlamyine social organization on Wednesday.

Local charities are supplying food to flood-hit victims.

In Chaungzon’s Kalop Village, four houses and the ward administration office were destroyed in a landslide. Six houses were also damaged by strong winds, but there were no injuries as people had been evacuated.

A Mawlamyine resident said: “Only local charities are helping flood victims. Firefighters are the only regime-linked officials that have joined relief efforts.”

The National Unity Government’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management reported that squalls are likely in coastal regions because of storms and a tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal.

The ministry warned of the danger of flash floods and landslides in Yangon and Rakhine and Mon states, and rising water levels in the Ayeyarwady, Chindwin and Salween rivers.

Internally displaced people (IDP) sheltering along the Demoso-Taungoo Road in the west of Demoso Township in southeast Myanmar’s Kayah State were also affected by heavy rain.

“The road is between two mountains and prone to flooding when it rains. IDPs live in makeshift tents around there. Some of them were flooded,” said a local.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said that the monsoon is especially heavy in the Bay of Bengal and heavy rain is expected in Yangon, Ayeyarwady, Rakhine, Mon, Karen, Bago and Tanintharyi states and regions.