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  Channel NewsAsia 21 Dec 06
Businesses along East Coast suffering due to rain
By Valarie Tan

Today Online 21 Dec 06
Blooming hell ... Floodwaters destroy Christmas stock, florists see substantial losses
Sheralyn Tay

Today Online 20 Dec 06
Singapore Swimming
Tan Hui Leng

The Straits Times 21 Dec 06
The big flood clean-up gets under way
By Teh Joo Lin

The Straits Times 21 Dec 06
Landslides leave some 'homeless'
Foliage and soil slide down a slope, obstructing access for three families

The Straits Times 20 Dec 06
24 hours of rain mayhem
Floods and landslides hit island; Fallen trees hold up traffic
By Teh Joo Lin and Tracy Sua

Channel NewsAsia 20 Dec 06
Tuesday's heavy rainfall third highest in 75 years

Channel NewsAsia 20 Dec 06
Damage caused by floods could run up to millions: shopowners
By Valarie Tan

SINGAPORE : In Singapore, the sun finally came out on Wednesday morning after nearly two days of non-stop rain.

But it is too little too late for some shops located in low-lying areas. They bore the brunt of Tuesday's massive floods, which had caused damage estimated to run up to millions of dollars.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) says flood and heavy rain alerts were sent out before the clouds turned grey.

The tide has passed, but there was nothing to cheer about. Workers at some shops took stock of the damage, while others salvaged whatever they could. About 100 holiday hampers were saved at one outlet.

Ryan Chioh, Owner, Goodwood Florist, said, "The priority, even from last night, has always been to save the customers' orders. After all we're a gift company. At the same time, (we will) call customers that are affected, as much as we can... This is the first time something like this has happened. The last two floods that we had, they were flash floods. They came and went very fast. So we were hoping for that to happen. But it never did."

And it looks like it will take a while, perhaps even up to months, for business to resume. But the mood of its 30 workers has not been dampened. They hope to put things back together and get business up and running again before Lunar New Year in 2007.

And water continues to flow from MacRitchie Reservoir but the rate has since slowed down as it had stopped raining. PUB says about 1,500 kilogrammes of debris have been cleared from drains in Olive Road alone.

But could the damage have been minimised?

PUB sent out heavy rain alerts in early October to some 600 residents and shopowners in flood-prone areas like Geylang. Other areas include Boat Quay, Chinatown, Jalan Besar, and Lorong Buangkok. The notices advised people to, for example, put up sand bags and block the entry of water. Other advice included placing items on a higher level. But Goodwood Florist claims it did not get such notices.

Tuesday's heavy rain and floods also stalled trains travelling between Singapore and Malaysia. At least five services were cancelled on Wednesday. Trains affected include Ekspress Rakyat, travelling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur; Ekspress Sinaran Pagi, from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore; and Mail Trains No. 58, 61 and 64.

Visitor numbers also dipped at Sentosa to only about 3,000 per day during the wet weather, down from the daily average of 10,000. There is more wet weather to come over Singapore in the next few days. Even though chances of prolonged rain are not high, the National Environment Agency is not totally ruling it out. - CNA/ms

Channel NewsAsia 20 Dec 06
Tuesday's heavy rainfall third highest in 75 years

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Tuesday was hit by the third highest rainfall recorded in 75 years.

The 24-hour rainfall recorded was 366 mm. This amount of rainfall recorded in one day exceeds even the average amount of 284 mm recorded for the whole month of December in previous years.

The highest amount of rainfall recorded over 24 hours in Singapore was 512 mm, in 1978. The second highest rainfall recorded was 467 mm, in 1969.

Although heavy rainfall is expected during this period, Tuesday's rainfall was exceptionally high. It caused localized flooding in various locations in the northern and central parts of Singapore.

PUB and the Meteorological Services Division had been sending out warnings of heavy rain and the possibility of flash floods in low-lying areas.

Prior to the onset of the Northeast Monsoon, flood advisories were also distributed door-to-door to 600 residents and shop owners in these areas.

On Tuesday, PUB engineers and technical staff were deployed at the various reservoirs to manage the situation. At the Lower Seletar and Kranji reservoirs, this included releasing water through the tide gates to prevent and alleviate flooding in those areas. PUB's technical teams and contractors were monitoring the situation at the various flood-prone areas throughout Singapore.

Working closely with the Meteorological Services Division and the Traffic Police, PUB sent periodic updates to the media several times on Tuesday. Radio announcements were also made throughout the day to inform the public to avoid the flooded areas.

By 11 pm Tuesday, except for Olive Road, the floods in the affected areas had subsided and traffic was back to normal. By Wednesday morning, the flood at Olive Road had also subsided and the road has since been passable to traffic. In the meantime, PUB has mobilised contractors to clear debris washed down by the flood waters.

The Meteorological Services Division has forecasted wet weather for the rest of the week. As high tides of between 2.7m and 3.1m are expected from Wednesday till X'mas Day, flash floods could still occur at low-lying areas.

PUB and the Meteorological Services Division will continue to monitor the situation closely and alert the public where necessary. The public can obtain the latest weather reports, including heavy rain warnings, by calling the NEA's weather forecast hotline at 6542 7788, or visiting 'Weather Report' at www.nea.gov.sg. The public can also call PUB-One (at 1800-284-6600) or tune in to radio broadcasts to check the weather and flood situation. - CNA/ir

Today Online 21 Dec 06
Blooming hell ... Floodwaters destroy Christmas stock, florists see substantial losses
Sheralyn Tay sheralyn@mediacorp.com.sg

BUSINESS isn't exactly blooming for the nurseries along Thomson Road, after record-high rainfalls and flash flooding washed away hopes for what is usually a profitable period.

Surging waters from MacRitchie Reservoir left some nurseries in the area chest-deep in water on Tuesday, with Candy Floriculture, Far East Flora and Goodwood Florist three of the worst hit.

Said Candy Floriculture director Sharon Goh: "The water rushed down from MacRitchie (Reservoir) very quickly and we had no time to salvage our stock, which was washed away."

Though she could not estimate the losses, she pointed out that things were "very bad" as a significant amount of Christmas stock was lost. "On Tuesday, the water level was so high that we couldn't send the flowers out for delivery. Customers also could not enter our premises," she added, estimating that the nurseries in the area have seen as much as a 95 per cent drop in business.

Goodwood Florist's executive director Ryan Chioh estimated that the flood could cost them up to a million dollars, taking into account the loss of business during the peak season, expensive stock like garden equipment and imported pots and physical damage to the property. "It will take a week or two to get the basic things set up, but to bounce back and get everything back in order again--you're looking at months," he said.

Another nursery, Far East Flora shut down operations temporarily yesterday. Their website stated that they would try to fulfil their Christmas orders, failing which, they would offer refunds by January.

According to the Public Utilities Board, about 1,500kg of debris--including plants and cardboard boxes--have been cleared from drains in Olive Road, the area worst hit by the rains.

Car owners affected by the floods are reeling from the damages. Already, NTUC Income has received two flood-related claims, said general manager Freddy Neo. Costs, he said, could range from $3,000 to $5,000 for upholstery cleaning, to $10,000 for a damaged engine.

Comfort DelGro's car workshop received more than three times the usual number of requests, especially for towing services.

While Singapore got some respite from the rain yesterday, this was not the case across the Causeway. Rain continued to pelt down on parts of Johor state, forcing KTM to cancel at least 10 train services to and from Singapore and leaving some 4,000 passengers affected.

Said spokesperson Shahriza Embi: "At the moment, we have five areas where the trains cannot pass. Most of these areas are flooded and some of them experienced minor landslides. And we cannot go in for repair works at the moment because waters are very high."

With Muar and Batu Pahat in north Johor still flooded, vegetable and fish farms have been badly affected. Analysts said this might cause a hike in the prices of imported agricultural produce.

The Straits Times 21 Dec 06
The big flood clean-up gets under way
By Teh Joo Lin

AS SEVERAL days of torrential rains eased yesterday and floodwaters receded, the big mop-up began in several parts of Singapore. Homes and businesses took stock of the damage and started to clean up, while the authorities mobilised cleaners to clear debris in affected areas.

About 1,500kg of debris was cleared from drains in Olive Road, off Thomson Road, said the Public Utilities Board (PUB). Cleaners fished out plants, branches, cartons and even a refrigerator.

Floods hit various locations in the northern and central parts of the island after continuous downpours throughout Tuesday. The rainfall - 366mm over a 24-hour period - was the third highest recorded in 75 years.

There were at least three landslides. In the private estate Hillview Gardens, a 50m slope collapsed on Jalan Dermawan early on Tuesday, damaging a playground, the road, two cars and three homes, and forcing the families to stay elsewhere.

The Defence Ministry, which owns the land, hired a professional engineer later that day to assess the ground, as well as contractors to redirect the rainwater flow. The contractors covered the slope with canvas yesterday to prevent further landslides.

In Thomson Road, nine nurseries were flooded - some of them waist-deep - with water. Yesterday, workers laboured to salvage whatever plants, trees, equipment and documents they could get their hands on.

Employees of FarEastFlora.com arrived at 7am to retrieve hampers not destroyed by the floodwater. At Candy Greenhouse & Flowers, workers erected tall shelves and scaffolding on which to place their surviving plants, just in case the heavens opened again.

FarEastFlora.com managing director Ryan Chioh estimated his company's loss at 'definitely more than a million' in damages and lost sales. Despite the setback, nursery operators said they were trying their best to fulfil customers' Christmas orders.

According to the weatherman, rains yesterday were restricted to showers over several parts of Singapore. By 7pm, the highest rainfall recorded was 68.3mm, in Paya Lebar. Occasional heavy showers are expected until Sunday.

As high tides of between 2.7m and 3.1m are expected until Christmas, flash floods could still occur in low-lying areas, warned the PUB. The weather forecast is available via the National Environment Agency's hotline on 65427788, or at www.nea.gov.sg

Meanwhile, the number of people evacuated from their homes due to floods in southern and central Malaysia doubled to more than 20,000 yesterday, from a day earlier. Malaysian news sources and wire agencies gave a range of 21,000 to 30,000 people evacuated from four Malaysian states - Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Pahang.

The Straits Times 21 Dec 06
Landslides leave some 'homeless'
Foliage and soil slide down a slope, obstructing access for three families

HILLVIEW Gardens resident James Tan moved his car to a 'safer'' spot after a slope opposite his home collapsed in a landslide on Tuesday. But it was futile. Another landslide, caused by the torrential rains later the same day, flipped his car on its side and pushed it against his neighbour's wall.

When the 60-year-old entrepreneur returned to his semi-detached house in Jalan Dermawan on Tuesday night through the back door, he discovered the landslide had filled his front porch and driveway with soil and branches in a pile about 1.5m high.

'The whole house is in a mess. The front part is totally sealed off, so we cannot access it. It's a disaster,' he said. Mr Tan, his son and wife spent the night in a hotel.

Non-stop rains caused soil, shrubs and trees on the 50m-high slope to smash into a playground as well as into three neighbouring homes. A 30m-tall water tank at the foot of the slope was also in danger of toppling. Foliage and soil tumbled into the homes, fences and gates. Two cars were damaged, including Mr Tan's Lexus. Four semi-detached houses were affected, including one that is unoccupied while undergoing renovations.

Mr Ng Kee Tat, 34, his sister, brother and mother evacuated their home on Tuesday afternoon as a tree threatened to topple onto their gate and trap them inside. They are now living with relatives.

When Mr Ng returned home yesterday afternoon to get his dog and medication for his 80-year-old mother, he discovered the tree had fallen onto the gate, blocking access to the house and trapping the dog inside. His dog greeted him with whines and all the upset Mr Ng could do was try to calm the animal from outside. He said his dog was afraid of thunder and the crashing tree had probably scared it.

Fallen trees and soil on the road also prevented company managing director T. H. Tan from getting into his home. Mr Tan, who is in his 60s, spent the night at a hotel, but worried about his dog and three cats, which had not been fed for 24 hours.

Fortunately, by last night, contractors sent by the Ministry of Defence - owner of the land - had cleared a way for Mr Ng to get his mother's medication and dog as well as for Mr T. H. Tan to feed his pets.

Mindef spokesman Colonel Benedict Lim said one overhang has become a danger to three of the homes. Mindef contractors will remove it and strengthen the slope as well. The work is expected to take until the middle or end of next month. Affected residents have been advised to stay away from their homes in the meantime.

Compensation for the damage remains unclear at this time.

Mr James Tan realises he has to live elsewhere while work repair continues, but asks: 'Who will bear the cost of the accommodation?' Mr T. H. Tan said he may live with relatives. 'This is nature, so we can't blame anyone,' he said.

Although Mr James Tan's home was worst hit by the landslide, he is not about to let it spoil his holiday plans. He retrieved his family's luggage packed with holiday gear through his back door and he, his wife and son set off today for China for a reunion with their two other sons. The sons work in the United Kingdom and Shanghai and the family gets together at least once a year.

Mr Tan said: 'There will still be holiday moods. We cannot just cancel our plans because of this. Our family gets a chance to meet only once a year, so it will be quite bad if we cannot get together. We are a close family.'

The Straits Times 20 Dec 06
24 hours of rain mayhem
Floods and landslides hit island
Fallen trees hold up traffic
By Teh Joo Lin and Tracy Sua

SINGAPORE was lashed by the third-largest deluge of rain in recorded history yesterday, causing heavy flooding in parts of the island, bringing down trees and triggering landslides.

The rain was most intense over the northern and central parts of the island, where flooding affected at least four locations.

Vehicles were diverted from several traffic junctions, which had been rendered impassable by the rising waters. Off Olive Road, the water was waist-deep, submerging nurseries along Thomson Road and paralysing cars, vans and lorries.

According to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), there was 'spillage' at the nearby MacRitchie Reservoir and at Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Landslides were reported in two places: along Mandai Road and Bukit Batok West Avenue 2.

High water was not the only reason for the traffic woes. A tree fell along Alexandra Road opposite Ikea, blocking three lanes. On Monday night, a tall tree had toppled and smashed through the windows of four flats at a housing block in Joo Seng Road and also damaging a concrete window ledge.

Yesterday, Marine Parade Town Council said it was unsure whether the tree had been struck by lightning or had fallen due to strong winds during the thunderstorm. It is deciding whether to remove three other trees on the same slope.

Aside from the havoc and damage to property, at press time there were no official reports of any deaths or injuries resulting from the rain. The only accidents so far have been minor, resulting from mishaps such as people falling into submerged drains.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it had been called in to rescue three employees from an office building along Upper Thomson Road yesterday afternoon, after the flood prevented them from opening a main gate. Firefighters had to cut a hole in the side fence to let them out.

PUB said yesterday's rainfall was the third-highest recorded in Singapore in the last 75 years. Over a 20-hour period until 8pm, the highest total rainfall was 345mm, recorded in Yio Chu Kang. This figure far surpasses the entire monthly average for December, which is 284.4mm. The highest rainfall recorded in Singapore over 24 hours was 512.4mm in 1978, which resulted in the worst flooding in recent history. The second highest was 467mm, in 1969.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the heavy rain was caused by the north-east monsoon, which started in early December. During the season, there are sudden surges in the north-east winds, which carry a lot of moisture. They usually last two to seven days.

When heavy rain coincides with high tide, flash floods can result in low-lying areas. The water level in drains and canals becomes so high that the water cannot be drained off quickly enough, causing floods to occur.

This is what happened at a kampung in low-lying Lorong Buangkok yesterday. Water started rising around the wooden home of 60-year-old housewife Habsah Rohe at around dawn. She frantically took her carpets off the floor and dumped her laundry on her bed.

Within two hours, the water was up to her knees. 'What a back-breaking task scooping water out of the house,' she said with a sigh. She may have to get used to it.

Wet weather with occasional heavy showers is expected for the rest of the week. The NEA's meteorological services division says the wet spell is expected to improve gradually.

Today Online 20 Dec 06

Singapore Swimming
Tan Hui Leng huileng@mediacorp.com.sg

TRAFFIC jams, floods, felled trees, a collapsed shophouse and mudslides. And no wonder ? Singapore hadn't seen a wetter day since 1978, and yesterday took one of its worst batterings from the skies in 75 years.

At 10.30am, residents near Little Guilin rushed to their windows when they heard a loud roar. They were met by the sight of a mass of mud ? with a cargo of shrubs and plants--sliding down the quarry.

Two hours later, a landslide uprooted a tree at Jalan Dermawan, near Hillview Estate, and residents in the nearby private estate had to be evacuated. In the Mohamad Sultan area, the facade and wall of a vacant shophouse caved in as flooding weakened the foundation of the old building.

The Johor-Singapore rail services were also disrupted, as mudslides and floods made the tracks impassable.

The heavy rain, which had persisted since Monday night, prompted the meteorological service to put out an advisory yesterday morning, warning the public to exercise caution and look out for flash floods in low-lying areas.

Floods forced many roads to be closed, especially in the northern parts of the island. Among the worst hit were the Thomson and Mandai areas.

Even the reservoirs collected more than they could hold--the downpours led to spillage at the MacRitchie and Upper Seletar water catchment areas.

The weather was also to blame for at least one traffic accident yesterday. According to the police, a vehicle travelling along the CTE towards Jalan Bukit Merah skidded on the wet road and crashed into the centre divider. One woman was injured and had to be sent to the Singapore General Hospital.

The total level of rainfall recorded in 20 hours between midnight and 8pm last night was 345mm--more than the December average of 284mm. In 1978, the highest rainfall recorded over 24 hours was 512mm, while the second highest was 467mm in 1969.

Deliveryman Foo Jin Cheng, 44, who drove past Upper Thomson yesterday, said: "This is the first time I've seen a flood this bad. This is the worst flood I've seen in Singapore."

Channel NewsAsia 21 Dec 06
Businesses along East Coast suffering due to rain
By Valarie Tan

SINGAPORE: Dark skies continue to cloud over Singapore, keeping many at home and businesses in pain. A handful braved the rain but it is practically a ghost town at the East Coast hawker centre.

Shopowners say business is down some 70 percent since last Sunday. Abdul Malik, a drinks stall assistant, says: "We lowered the price of drinks by about 20 cents so people will come here to drink." Bicycle rentals also got hit, with only two or three customers a day.

The rain has not stopped the more adventurous from coming out to enjoy the great outdoors. But with their businesses left at the mercy of the weather, most shopowners are cutting their losses quick. Part-timers are sent home two to three hours earlier than usual and shops are closing their doors at least an hour early.

Some gyms across Singapore also saw a 10 percent drop in customers as most people go away for the holidays and some are kept at home due to the recent downpour.

PUB says the recent heavy rain caused excess water from the MacRitchie and Upper Seletar reservoirs to overflow. Reservoirs are designed to hold a certain amount of water, but when there is too much rain, excess water will still spill.

At Upper Seletar Reservoir, excess water was released into the sea by opening the tide gates.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment and Water Resources Minister, says: "You can't design for rainfall of this level, it is just too huge. The thing we can accept is that we can only design our canal of a certain size, and at the end of the day, we have to live with some of these occurrences which occur once in 50 years or so. I know it is inconvenient to some Singaporeans, but on the part of PUB and NEA, we'll do our best to alleviate the problem as quickly as possible."

The wet spell is likely to continue and NEA expects more flash floods in low-lying areas with high tides hitting 3.1 metres till Christmas Day.

The roads at the affected areas are back to normal and the spillage at MacRitchie Reservoir has ceased. - CNA/so

Let the flooding begin a thorough review of flooding in Singapore and what YOU can do about it on the leafmonkey blog
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