16 November 2011
The United States is providing financial assistance and relief-and-recovery expertise to help the government of Thailand cope with the most severe flooding the country has experienced in recent years.
The Department of State announced an additional $10 million in assistance November 16. U.S. military and civilian personnel in the region have already poured their efforts into the disaster, which began with severe monsoon rains in July and ongoing rainfall above average.
News reports indicate a death toll exceeding 500 in Thailand alone, while the number of dead throughout Southeast Asia may exceed 1,000.
In a joint appearance in Bangkok with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton November 16, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra expressed thanks and appreciation for the U.S. aid, calling it “not only generous but timely.” He also expressed hope for U.S. assistance in coping with the damage done to the nation’s food supply. “Cultivation and food production is also an issue of the greatest concern, one that is directly related to food security,” Shinawatra said.
Secretary Clinton, who will visit an evacuation shelter November 17, said U.S. teams will also support Thai counterparts in the rebuilding and repair of critical infrastructure damaged by floodwaters.
The USS Lassen is in port in Thailand with personnel and equipment ready to move in on rescue, relief and recovery efforts. The State Department says U.S. resources will increase the capacity of local civilian emergency response. The United States will also help train police and emergency personnel in disaster response and provide equipment such as generators, survival kits and life vests.
In October, when the flooding was at a critical stage, the United States provided boats and marine engines to Thai police assisting flood victims and securing property. The USS Mustin made an unscheduled stop in Thailand and conducted dozens of helicopter survey missions with the Thai military. Crew members also worked with local communities and donated blood and relief funds.
Employees of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok pitched in on the relief effort, delivering food to victims and gathering supplies, even while some embassy employees were flood victims themselves.
Besides the immediate damage caused by flooding in tens of thousands of homes, Thailand is also calculating the damage to centuries of priceless cultural artifacts, including the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. The State Department announced the U.S. experts in this area will also help with damage assessment, and resources from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation will support the effort.