Hundreds of homes flooded in Amarapura township

amarapura-1 Boats anchor near the flooded Ayeyarwady Bridge. Phyo Wai Kyaw/The Myanmar Times
23 July 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Hundreds of houses in the Shwe Kyat Yat village tract in Amarapura township, Mandalay Region, have been flooded due to rising water from the Ayeyarwady River, says a village elder in the area.

"The Ayeyarwady River has been rising since last week and flooded villages near the river. Fourteen out of 24 villages in the Shwe Kyat Yat village tract have flooded. Although the water level has stopped rising this week, we will have to be wary at least until next month," said U Than Aung, the 100-houses-group elder for Moe Kaung village.

"At least 1000 houses have been affected by flooding and we're still making a list of victims and household numbers. We have to wait and see whether the water keeps rising. The river may rise again. Some flood victims are living in temporary tents on roads near their villages. Some have moved to their relatives' houses. Currently, there is no one to assist them. The most pressing need right now is clean drinking water. It would also be good if they get food than can be cooked easily," he said.

"The danger level of the Ayeyarwady River near Mandalay city is 12.6 metres, and villages in Amarapura township that are located near the river suffer flooding annually. The Ayeyarwady River was about a metre below its danger level on July 14 and it increased a lot after July 18," said U Win Than Hlaing, head of the River Water Guard Office in Chan Aye Tharzan township, Mandalay city.

"On Sunday, the water level was over 30 centimetres above the critical level and it only dropped a bit on Monday. As there are still strong rains expected in the northern part of the country, we need to remain cautious," said U Win Than Hlaing. 

River water enters a village in Amarapura township in this undated file photo. Phyo Wai Kyaw/The Myanmar Times
During Myanmar's traditional leap years, the water level of the Ayeyarwaddy rises more than usual. In 2014, the river's level in Mandalay exceeded the danger level for a record 17 days. That year, more water entered Taungthaman Lake and some pillars of the famed U Bein Bridge were damaged. In 2016, the water rose high enough to close 15 guest houses near the bridge, and visitors were prohibited from walking on the bridge.

"Last year, the water reached the outskirts of some villages but didn't enter. This year, the water rose two metres in just two days. Now, around 600 households are flooded. As we experience this every year, most of the households have boats. People are using pumps to access ground water," said Daw Aye Than, a resident of Shankalay Kyun village.

Water from the Ayeyarwaddy and Myitnge rivers often flood the Innwa heritage area, villages in Amarapura, and around Mandalay during the rainy season. Water hasn't entered the heritage area yet, but it won't be good if it keeps rising, said Daw Thida, the driver of a horse-cart in the Innwa heritage area.

"Currently, visitors can take boats from the Oh Doke Tan Jetty and ride horse-carts near the city walls. The horse-cart area has been moved from Oh Doke Tan to the city walls. Although the water level has dropped a bit, it would cause problems if it rises another 30 centimetres," she said. – Translated

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