PUB steps up flood protection measures for monsoon season

Singapore will experience wet weather and possible flash floods over the next four months because of the monsoon season, said PUB in a statement on Nov 30, 2018.
Singapore will experience wet weather and possible flash floods over the next four months because of the monsoon season, said PUB in a statement on Nov 30, 2018.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Businesses and residents in flood-prone areas can now request sandbags from PUB, with the national water agency stepping up flood protection measures as the north-east monsoon sets in.

Singapore will experience wet weather and possible flash floods over the next four months because of the monsoon season, the PUB said in a statement on Friday (Nov 30).

Climate change has meant more unpredictable weather so PUB is making further efforts to prepare Singaporeans for the coming wet season, said its director of catchment and waterways Yeo Keng Soon.

For instance, the agency is issuing advisories to those in low-lying, flood-prone areas as well as offering sandbags on request to about 600 residents and businesses in these areas to help them guard against floodwaters entering their premises.

It will also be working with the Automobile Association of Singapore to provide its members with safety tips for navigating through flash floods, which can occur within minutes.

Already, PUB has stepped up its checks on the drainage systems at critical installations and construction sites around Singapore to ensure they are unobstructed and can convey storm water during heavy rain.

The agency will also carry out round-the-clock online flood monitoring using water level sensors and closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, while a Quick Response Team will be on standby during the monsoon season to check drains for chokes and render assistance during flash floods.

Flood protection efforts go beyond monsoon preparations, the PUB said, as it works with building developers to implement measures that slow down run-off into the public drainage system, through features such as on-site detention tanks and rain gardens.

 
 

Mixed-use development Paya Lebar Quarter, for example, has incorporated features that can control storm-water run-off at the source and cleanse the water before it is discharged into the Geylang River. They can hold about 1,000 cubic m of water during periods of heavy rainfall. The amount is equivalent to about a third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The PUB said it has also completed major drainage projects this year such as the one in September that reduced flood risks in Orchard Road.

Drainage improvement works are currently ongoing at 74 locations, while works to enhance flood protection for the Bukit Timah area will start in the first quarter of 2019.

Heavy downpour caused flash floods in several parts of Singapore this month, including in parts of Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Geylang.

A list of flood-prone areas is available at www.pub.gov.sg/drainage/floodmanagement.

Tips for driving in flooded areas

During flash floods, water levels may rise rapidly within minutes, leaving motorists stranded. Here are some tips for navigating flooded roads from the Automobile Association of Singapore and PUB.

- First, assess the depth of the water. Do not proceed if there is no clear way out of the flooded section or if you cannot tell how deep the water is.

- Avoid driving through floodwaters deeper than 15cm as the water at this level can stall most cars and possibly cause damage to its engine and electrics. In about 30cm of water, a typical car can begin to float and, as traction is lost, so is steering control.

- If the floodwater is moving, avoid driving when it is deeper than about 10cm as your car may lose grip of the road and be dragged into deeper, more dangerous waters.

- Flooded roads are best negotiated by one vehicle at a time. Where possible, allow all oncoming traffic and cars in front to pass, and avoid having to stop in the middle of the flood.

- Drive very slowly and steadily in low gear to keep your engine speed (RPM) relatively high and constant until you are out of the water. This ensures that water does not enter through the exhaust pipe and shoot up into the engine bay, which will damage the vehicle's electrics.

- Do not speed as it may cause aquaplaning and steering control loss. If this happens, hold the steering lightly and gently ease off the accelerator until your speed reduces, allowing your tyres to regain grip.

- If the vehicle stalls, do not attempt to restart it, as engine damage may occur. Turn on the hazard lights to alert other drivers around you, and call for assistance.

- If the car has stalled and the water level reaches the bottom edge of the car door, leave the car and move to higher ground. Do not wait until the car is submerged in water as the doors may not open.

- After exiting the flood area, dry your brakes by gently tapping on the brake pedal to create friction and heat. Test the brakes' effectiveness on a clear patch of road at low speed before driving off normally.