Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Great Singapore Floods
One Caucasian tourist was saying on TV last night that she never expected to see the waterlogged chaos that was Orchard Road "in a first world country". TODAY had a more political correct quote from visitor Educardo Gomez, "It's quite a sight - one that I never expected to see in Singapore - but these things happen, even in the most developed places". To support Mr Gomez, the broadsheet had a photo on page 30 of the flash flood devastation in France's Cote d'Azur region. For the record France does not have the world's highest paid cabinet ministers.
Also, the geographical region referenced is not as densely built up as Orchard Road. Ditto the Bukit Timah/Dunearn Road stretch, where you can't throw a stone without hitting a brand new condominium; it's easier to hit a Kim or a Lee in Korea. It's not rocket science that urban and developed areas have special vulnerability to flash floods - impervious surfaces. Impervious surfaces are man-made constructed surfaces like concrete shopping malls, high rise buildings, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks. These surfaces replace natural landscape and nature's means to absorb flood waters. These surfaces amplify the the velocity of flood waters because they rush over hard surfaces instead of seeping into the soil. You don't need to be paid a million dollars to understand that.