(Widespread rain and thunderstorm activity visible in the August 3 LANCE-MODIS satellite shot of a region that has seen millions impacted by epic flooding occurring from July 30th through today. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)
August 3, 2015: A massive moisture blow off the world’s record hot oceans had to go somewhere. And, over the past few days, the tally has been extraordinary.
A weak but heavily moisture-laden tropical cyclone Komen slammed into the coast of Bangladesh on Thursday, July 30th. Since that time, the system has lingered over the region — dumping between 11 (286 mm) and 47 inches of rainfall (nearly 1200 mm) over that low-lying country, over Myanmar and over India. For sections of Myanmar that’s twice the rainfall amount the country typically sees in all of July but concentrated into a period of a just a few days. To many, the inundation came suddenly and without warning. According to an AP interview:
“There was no warning … we thought it was normal [seasonal flooding],” said Aye Myat Su, 30, from a monastery being used as a temporary shelter in the regional capital of Kalay. “But within a few hours, the whole house was under water. My husband had to get onto the roof as there was no way out.”
Aye Myat Su’s experience is not unique. For millions of people throughout a broad region have seen serious and devastating flood impacts. Due to the massive inundation, a huge swath of Myanmar is under water. There, more than 200,000 people there are thought to have been displaced or inundated by the floods. In the mountainous state of Hakha alone, landslides have destroyed over 700 homes. All across the country, however, the wreckage has been extraordinary with more than 17,000 homes thought to have been destroyed as of Monday morning.
In the Bengal region of India more 10,000 villages have been impacted resulting in the displacement of 214,000 persons with more than 30,000 huddled in government disaster shelters. So far, 121 souls are reported to have lost their lives in the region. A death toll that is, sadly, likely to continue to climb. Debris and flood waters have also washed out hundreds of bridges, floated telephone poles out of the ground, destroyed public buildings and blocked many major roadways.
Due to what is a massive disruption of infrastructure — including widespread power outages — reports from some of the more heavily flooded regions remain sparse.
(Reports of damage, dislocation and loss of life mount after one of the worst floods in 200 years strikes Southeast Asia)
Government officials are scrambling to set up aid and relief flows to those displaced or who’ve seen their homes wiped out by the flooding. Myanmar’s president has declared a state of emergency and stated that his country would do its ‘utmost’ for flood victims of that stricken nation. But local officials have voiced doubts about towns’ and villages’ ability to recover without substantial outside assistance.
It’s a severe deluge that has covered a huge section of Southeast Asia and impacted the lives of millions. And for some regions, relief may come later rather than sooner. The moisture Komen delivered remains in place atop a seasonal monsoonal flow that will only provide more energy for storms. Heavy rains are thus expected to linger over many of the flooded regions in the coming days as powerful thunderstorms continue to develop in train or drift eastward over Thailand and Vietnam.
Hat Tip to Leland Palmer