When parts of Singapore were under 2 metres of water

17 06 2010

The flooding that occurred yesterday morning brings to mind some massive floods that hit Singapore previously which had resulted in much devastation and damage. Looking back in time, yesterday’s flooding pales in comparison to the monster flood that affected much of the island some 40 years ago on 10 December 1969. Some 12 inches or 300 millimetres of rain fell in a 24 hour period leaving many parts of Singapore submerged up to chest levels, with waters in the worst hit areas rising over 2 metres, in the worst flooding in some 35 years. Some 3000 people were left homeless as a result and five people were killed. Potong Pasir would usually be one of the worst hit areas and I remember being able to see only the attap and zinc roofs of houses from the vantage of the block of flats I lived in in Toa Payoh, which overlooked the area. Vegetable farms were destroyed and much of the livestock kept in the pig and poultry farms would have drowned – another thing I remember seeing is the clean pink carcasses of pigs floating in the flood waters.

Flooding at Newton Circus 10 December 1969. 300 mm of rain fell over a 24 hour period causing massive flooding all over Singapore. Water rose to chest levels in many parts of Singapore, and over 2 metres in some of the worst hit areas.

Another big  flood I recall was the one that hit on 2 December 1978, when six people died. Most of the deaths associated with that flood and the many others before it, were due to people falling into monsoon drains and being swept away by the fast moving water. This led to the installation of guard rails along monsoon drains, as it was often hard to tell where the monsoon drains were during a flood. I recall an incident when going to school in Essex Road off Thomson Road, one of the areas prone to flooding. During one flood, waters rose to knee deep levels and a schoolmate lost his footing, falling into the drain near the school gate – fortunately for him, he was able to hold on to something and pull himself out of the drain. It is comforting to know that much has been done to improve drainage on the island. If not for that, the 100 millimetres of rain that we saw yesterday might have resulted in something that could have matched the monster floods of 1969 and 1978.




11 responses

17 06 2010
David Leong

Will see how far & how much extent that this time affect places like Orchard & elsewhere in Singapore. Saw brief tv-new last night & I & my fmaily were shocked indeed. Thanks for closing the gap between past & present event!

17 06 2010
The wondering wanderer

Yes, the scenes were amazing! Who would have expected Orchard Road to be flooded to that extent! Despite the good work done in improving Singapore’s drainage system, the last two incidents which happened in a relatively short space of time puts two questions in the minds of many of us: whether it will happen again, and also how can this be prevented in the future.

19 06 2010
Global Voices in English » Remembering the 1969 Singapore great flood

[…] of Singapore were submerged in floodwaters a few days ago, The Long and Winding Road recalls the great flood of 1969 in […]

16 07 2010

The flood of 1978 … i was but a young child then. I remember the water reaching knee-high level in my Grandma’s house and we had fun splashing around.

The most memorable part was when we felt fishes glide against our legs while standing right in the living room!

I was too young to comprehend that fact that while i was having significant fun that day, someone out there (6 in fact) were fighting their last breath …

17 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

Hi, guess you are the author of The Mile Hi! Club. Great stuff! I wasn’t too old myself back then … but my experiences were more with the earlier floods as I went to kindergarten and school in the Kampong Java / Thomson Road area where flooding was quite frequent … I guess it was fun from a child’s perspective … but I never liked wading through the waters somehow although a favourite activity was playing in the rain! 🙂

17 12 2010
Abdul Aziz Ramli

I experienced this flood too as i and my family were staying in KK Police Qtrs. I remembered it was last day of Ramadhan and we were preparing for tomorrow big day Hari Raya Puasa.Lucky for us that we stayed in a two-storey semi-detached quarters.Cookings were done along the staircase.

19 12 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for sharing that Abdul Aziz! I guess living around the Rochor Canal area you would have had quite a lot of experiences with flooding … Going to kindergarten off Kampong Java Road also meant that I encountered the overflowing canal on more than one occasion – once I remember being carried to the car!

15 02 2011
Happy Wanderer

Remembered those for sure! I stayed in Upper Serangoon Road – our neighbour was the owner of the Crocodile Farm – after the flood, one of the crocs were missing…..we still wonder where it went, so say they saw it in the reservoir – but that’s a long distance for it to travel…but who knows.

17 10 2011
orang putih

I was living at RAf Changi in December 1969, we were due to go to our Amah’s house in a Kampong off Jalan Haji Salam to celebrate Hari Raya with her and her family. The flooding put paid to it and our Amah was convinced it was Allahs punishment for wickedness in Sinagapore. Our house was on a hill overlooking Changi village and i recall flooding inside the house caused by the rain coming in through the shutters.

23 09 2012
The cleaning up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin (1977-1987) « Otterman speaks…

[…] Lim recalls the flood in The Long and Winding Road: “Potong Pasir would usually be one of the worst hit areas and I remember being able to see […]

11 01 2016
Jes Wong

I wonder where my mom’s relatives are now, they used to live at Newton Circle vicinity. Their home was flooded back in 1969 & I remember the family moved into our house temporarily as they had lost their home & their watch & repair business to the flood. I had shared my bed with a very young aunt then. I was in Pri 2 at the time.

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