Swiss Girl helps in Thailand

Swiss Joy (19) says: “In a disaster you can do two things. Sit back and watch or get up and do something. Anything. Whatever you can. The first option didn´t really work out for me.. So I flew 9056.6 kilometers to do something. Anything. Whatever I can.” For the next 19 days she is now reporting about her activities in this blog: Here is her first post:

Landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport at 18.24 on November 3rd 2011 you wouldn´t have guessed that 2/3 of Thailand was under water or that the Thai people were facing what has been called “the worst flood in half a century”. In fact the plane was full, the people calm and the atmosphere normal. Normal? I was beginning to wonder what bubble I had landed in. Standing outside waiting to be picked up a large Royal Thai Army truck passed, and I knew I was in the right place afterall. As we took up the tollway through Chaengwatthana, Don Muang and then Rangsit I saw that the media, for once, had not over-dramatized their boradcasts.

Trucks, garbage trucks, huge buses, and cargo transporters are stacked to the brim with sand bags. More than 30km of cars parked along the side of the tollway left and right, leaving only 2 lines free to drive on. Motorcycle taxi´s waiting like valet´s to pick you up and drive you along the endless car-line to find your car. Some have covered their cars with a protective sheet, not knowing when they would return. A large police tent is seen in the distance, with officers trying to manage the heavy traffic. Below us everything is under water. People have gathered in seek of shelter in an abandoned Police post on the tollway. Looking out to my left it is pitch dark. Roads are no longer visible, having been swallowed whole by the masses of water. The scattered lamp posts can be connected like dots to be able to make out where the road was. Now, just the reflection of the house and post lights like tiny ships out at sea indicate where the Soi´s once were. A massive blanket of water covers the abandoned villages below us. Where is the light house, I wonder, for all those lost sailors.

We drive by buildings that are completely dark due to power cuts or sheer desertification and abandonment. If it wasn’t for the half moon, providing what seemed to be the only source of light, we would probably not even see most of the buildings. Car after car parked till the very end of the tollway. They cover bridges and U-turn bridges as well. And as we slowly, inch by inch, drive down the exit we see left and right piles, even walls, of sandbags blockading the water from erasing the only road left. Numerous large pumps are positioned to pump the water escaping onto the road back over the barrier. Policemen and volunteers, some standing and some sleeping on the sandbags, guide the cars with floodlights along the flooded path. Who knows how long they have been out here for. A rescue boat on the other side of the barrier goes by, men with life jackets and flashlights head into the streets shouting out to home owners who have chosen to stay behind. – Joy

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