SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB is testing two new flood protection devices “which can be easily deployed” if flooding occurs during the northeast monsoon season, it announced on Friday (Nov 22).
The first two months of the monsoon season, which sets over Singapore from the second half of November, typically brings frequent and heavy thundery showers, and flash floods may occur “if the intense rainfall temporarily overwhelms the drainage system”, said PUB.
DAM EASY FLOOD PANEL
One device is called Dam Easy Flood Panel (DFP) and is installed across doorways to prevent floodwaters from entering.
It weighs about 20kg and is 0.6m high. It is reusable and can be adjusted to fit doorways between 0.78m and 1.10m wide. Unlike conventional flood panels, installation does not require tools or fixings that can damage doorways, said PUB.
PUB said it has purchased 20 DFPs costing S$1,200 each, which it will loan out to homes and businesses in flood-prone and low-lying areas in eastern and central Singapore for one year.
These areas include Lorong Melayu, Lorong Marzuki, Mimosa Walk, Tampines Road, Everitt Road, Lorong 104 Changi and Syed Alwi Road, said Mr Yeo Keng Soon, director of catchment and waterways at PUB, in response to CNA queries.
“These are localised areas where conventional measures to alleviate floods like raising roads and platform levels are not feasible due to low-lying existing developments,” said PUB in a media release.
Explaining, Mr Yeo said some of the homes and shophouses in low-lying areas were built decades ago, and do not meet the current minimum platform levels for flood protection.
“Only when the area undergoes redevelopment can the ground level be raised,” he said.
PUB said it will purchase an additional 50 DFPs so that more properties in low-lying areas can be protected.
“As long as they are residing in a flood-prone area, we will definitely let them try this. But with the weather changing, and as and when more hotspots (arise), and we think they will benefit from this Dam Easy Flood Panel, we will also loan it to them to let them try,” said Mr Thomas Soh, senior principal engineer (drainage operations) of PUB’s catchment and waterways department.
“When we loan this out, we also work with the residents to try and train them how to use this, it’s quite straightforward and easy, they should be able to master it in about less than an hour,” he said.
Mr Lim K S, who lives in a landed property along Tampines Road, received his DFP on Friday. He said given its weight, the DFP could be difficult for the elderly to install on their own.
"I hope that as technology improves, we can have a lighter one that we can use. But it’s better than nothing. Without it the water will just come in,” he said.
The 47-year-old, who lives with his 83-year-old father, recalled the last time his house was flooded in 2014 after a heavy rainfall. The water reached above his ankles and Mr Lim spent six hours clearing the water and debris.
PORTABLE FLOOD BARRIER
To tackle flash floods, PUB’s quick response teams will also be equipped with portable flood barriers (PFBs). They are designed for use on firm surfaces like roads and pavements. These barriers help divert or confine floodwaters so that traffic remains passable, said PUB.
It would take a two or three-man team about five to 10 minutes to set up the PFB, said Mr Soh.
When installed, the PFBs create a 0.5m high dam, about 6m in length.
Mr Soh noted that the highest floodwater levels Singapore has experienced are between 0.3m and 0.4m high, which is lower than the maximum height of the barriers and panels.
PUB stressed the importance of being aware of and prepared for the possibility of a flood. The agency will be releasing alerts on impending heavy rain or flash floods on its Facebook and Twitter, and invited the public to stay updated on the weather and flash floods in the coming months.
To manage storm water and reduce flood risk, and cope with more intense and frequent storms due to the effects of climate change, PUB takes “a holistic approach”, said Mr Yeo.
“These include upgrading drains and canals, installing detention tanks and flood barriers at buildings, and raising entrance levels to underground facilities, to contain and slow down the flow of storm water,” he added.
Noting that the DFPs are “relatively still quite affordable” considering that they can be reused over a long time, Mr Soh said PUB hopes that this will make landed property owners more aware of the solutions available on the market.
“What we want to do here is to try to build up Singaporeans’ individual response and to get them to see that actually everyone can play a part when it comes to flood response.”