On a good day it takes about 45 minutes to reach Bangkruai from central Bangkok. Although part of Nonthaburi province, the area is for all intents and purposes an outer suburb of Thailand’s capital – sitting on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River.
But now, Thailand’s record floods have almost entirely cut access to Bangkruai. The area is only accessible by truck and some parts can only be accessed by boat.
One part of Bangkruai has been isolated for two weeks. According to one community leader, approximately 1,000 families have been living on the supplies they could stockpile before the flooding hit, supplies that have almost run out.
“Most of the people are still staying here,” says 47-year-old Peter who has lived in Bangkruai his whole life. “The people here are poor – they don’t have the money to get out and stay in safer areas.”
Peter contacted the Thai Red Cross and asked them to provide assistance. In response, supplies for 1,000 families were dispatched from the organization’s headquarters in Bangkok.
Sunisthida Phetduang works for the Thai Red Cross relief bureau. “We want to reach communities like these because they have no access to stores, and they cannot easily make their way to evacuation centres,” she says.
This focus on meeting the needs of those worst affected often creates logistical challenges. On this trip, the two Thai Red Cross trucks inched their way through the flooded streets of Bangkruai for more than 90 minutes, before the water became too deep and they were forced to turn back.
Eventually, another way into the community was found. After heading back the way they came, the trucks finally – after more than three and a half hours on the road reach their destination. There, the Red Cross began to unload the supplies, and people began to arrive on boats and make shift rafts, or by wading through chest deep waters.
Each family received a family kit – containing food, clothes and household medical supplies – along with five kilograms of rice. Before long, word of the relief distribution spread through the surrounding area and more people arrived looking for assistance. Where possible, these requests were met with family kits and rice.
But many people had to be turned away. “There is no more,” said Sunisthida Phetduang. “We have to go now to another community that is even more isolated. We need to have supplies for them.”
Since the floods began in late June, Thai Red Cross has distributed more than 175,000 family kits almost with almost two million bottles of drinking water. Volunteers and staff have been active in 36 provinces, and have carried out some distributions in the flood affected northern suburbs of Bangkok.