Heavy downpour causes flash floods around S’pore

SINGAPORE: Flash floods caused by heavy rain on Wednesday morning left a trail of damage and disruption in parts of Singapore.

In just three hours, between 8am and 11am, 100 millimetres of rainfall were recorded. That is 60 per cent of the average rainful for June.

Hardest hit were the downtown areas, as businesses came to a halt, people scrambled for a way out, and the authorities swung into damage control.

Business at a cafe in Liat Towers in Orchard Road ground to a halt. Motorists and commuters are stuck in traffic in Thomson, while part of the CTE had to be closed for about two hours due to a fallen tree.

Bus services were disrupted for a few hours, from about 10am to 1pm.

The hardest hit was Orchard Road, as viewers sent in pictures of the early scenes when the skies opened. One showed the intersection between Orchard and Scotts Roads made it impassable for vehicles and pedestrians.

And those who were caught in the downpour did not expect it to be so serious.

"Just like ... a river," one said.

"Never thought that a first—world country would flood like this," another commented.

Singapore’s national water agency PUB maintains that its drainage systems are developed for Singapore’s rapid urbanisation.

Yap Kheng Guan, 3P Network Director, PUB, said: "In 1984, when we expanded the Stamford Canal, it served this area and served us very well. So we have to really get down to this root of today’s flooding."

He added: "You have to look at the nature of the flooding that has taken place. You compare it with the previous years, where we have 2,000 hectares of flooding. Now it’s 66 hectares.

"There are still areas that will be subjected to floods. But the nature of the flood is very different from the previous flood. In the past, it used to be very extensive, and for a longer duration, and the depth of the water is a lot of worse. And those floods can be very disruptive and disabling.

"Nowadays, the flooding is more of a flash flood and within half an hour, it’s all over."

The PUB said it will investigate the cause of the flood. But before that, the debris and water will have to be cleared from the drainage system.

Older buildings like Lucky Plaza will have to be cleared of the flood water. However underground, MRT trains did not see an extra flow of passengers or rainwater. That is because the PUB had advised the operator to ensure that the stations are flood—resistant.

A flight of stairs can prevent rainwater from overflowing into MRT stations underground.

PUB said such anti—flooding features are being built into MRT stations based on the highest flooding level ever recorded in the past 20 to 30 years.

— CNA/vm/al