November 29, 2020

Flooding closes Thai campus

In late summer, heavy rains that led to mass floods wreaked havoc on Thailand. Though Webster University’s Thailand campus, located in Hua Hin and Cha-am, wasn’t hit the hardest, students still face hardships and concerned parents back in the States.
Christian Castaneda, a junior business management major, didn’t have to calm his parents down because they knew Thailand experienced floods.
“But, after watching the news again and getting to know that this has been the worst flooding in Thailand, they called me to make sure that I was doing fine like every other parent,” Castaneda said.
The Webster Bangkok Center remained closed Oct. 27-31 because of the flooding. Universities were asked to close by the Thai government to keep students safe.
Preechaya Praweenwai, a native Thai student and sophomore double major in international relations and psychology, is helping students in any way possible. She said Webster Student Council and Student Services are now running a donation for flood victims, and are planning to volunteer in either Bangkok or somewhere nearby. They hope to help people pack donations and also build shelters.
“We are collecting money, clothes, canned food, as well as empty water bottles because people there have water, but the factories that produce water bottles get flooded, so they cannot transport water,” Praweenwai said.
Castaneda described life in Thailand before the flood as “heaven and paradise.” People could travel just about anywhere and students could get their groceries from Tesco, Thailand’s version of a superstore similar to Wal-Mart. But since the flood, food has been scarce.
“Now if you go to buy groceries, you see that most of the shelves of Tesco are completely empty,” Castaneda said. “Since many of the factories are flooded and transportation is impossible, there is no production and they cannot bring groceries to Hua Hin.”
The flood affected factories in Thailand and caused a shortage in the amount of water and packaged foods like instant noodles. Praweenwai said since streets are blocked and transportation is low, people in the surrounding area are flocking to one location for food.
“We have never seen supermarkets’ shelves as empty as this, so it’s quite a shock for us and we are afraid we will run out of foodstuffs and water very soon,” Praweenwai said. “My parents took me up to Bangkok to check on how my brother and sister were doing, and they were both fine.”
Hua Hin wasn’t hit directly, but the campus is only three hours away from Bangkok. Praweenwai said since many people from Bangkok are staying in Hua Hin, housing is very busy and the town is overly crowded.
Although Thailand experiences and expects floods on a fairly regular basis, they weren’t prepared for this. As of Nov. 6, the death toll has reached more than 500 victims.

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