Cars left damaged and buses drenched but it's business as usual in flood-hit areas

A car in the flooded road at the junction of Upper Changi and Bedok North Avenue 4. PHOTO: ST READER

SINGAPORE - Despite the flood, 60-year-old Mr Rodney Ham believed he could still drive his Mercedes-Benz through the knee-deep water that had collected at the junction of Upper Changi Road and Bedok North Avenue 4 on Monday morning (Jan 8).

But as he was making his move, another vehicle coming in the opposite direction sent the water washing over his bonnet.

"Thank God that I was still able to drive about five to 10 metres out of the area. The engine choked a few times and the car stalled," the managing director of an automation firm told The Straits Times on Tuesday. He added that his year-old vehicle had to be towed away after, probably to have its engine replaced.

Monday morning's intense downpour resulted in flash floods in nine areas of Singapore, partially submerging cars, flooding the cabins of buses and disrupting some businesses.

BMW driver Ricky Ng, 50, was also caught in the flood. "The damage is quite bad as water got into the engine, exhaust and air-intake system . The engine has to be dismantled to be repaired too," he said.

Garages said flood-damaged cars can cost anywhere between thousands and tens of thousands of dollars to repair, and insurance companies may instead write them off.

Mr Francis Lim, president of the Singapore Motor Workshop Association, said: "Flooded cars are tricky. Electrical components and computers installed in the floorboards and side panels of the cars may also be shorted."

The floods started at 8.30am and took two hours to subside, keeping towing services busy.

Mr Teo Kian Hock, 57, who runs a towing company under his name, has a fleet of eight trucks that usually assist about 20 vehicles a day. On Monday, the company helped 40 .

Asked if he was concerned that the tow trucks could also become trapped in the water, Mr Teo said in Mandarin: "Of course we were afraid, but we also have long cables that can be extended to reach the cars, which we used.

"But this is not the worst instance of flooding we have dealt with, as the flood was confined to the roads, which drain easier compared with water entering a building or carpark, which has happened before."

Changi-based logistics company RichLand was forced to reroute 15 of its delivery vans.

Its human resources manager Fiona Lee said: "We were pretty fortunate as the warehouse is on a slope and the water did not flood into the warehouse. We told our drivers to take a left turn to Bedok North Avenue 4 instead of going onto Upper Changi Road to avoid the flood."

Ms Margaret Jenkins, in her 60s, a receptionist for design company Kingsmen Creatives in Changi South Lane, said its dispatch biker had to ride on the pavement to avoid the floods, while some staff were forced to park across the road at the Institute of Technical Education College East.

"It is the first time since the company moved here 18 years ago that the flooding has been so bad," said Ms Jenkins.

Classes at ITE College East were not affected.

SBS Transit said that 12 of its buses, which operate routes 9 and 10, were affected.

"As water levels rose, the cabins of these buses became flooded, some with ankle high water, as they travelled along Upper Changi Road and Paya Lebar Road," said Ms Tammy Tan, SBS Transit's senior vice-president for corporate communications.

The buses were called back for checks but none were damaged.

Go-Ahead said that five of its bus services had been delayed due to the rain.

At Paya Lebar Road, flood waters crept into the compound of the Masjid Wak Tanjong mosque, but did not flow into the elevated main prayer hall.

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