AYUTTHAYA – Urai Yimlamai, a 68-year-old labourer, has lost two weeks’ worth of income due to massive flooding in central Thailand.
However, she is thankful for the help she has received from the Church and other Catholic organisations.
Sitthisak Sukchai, a 56-yearold school bus driver, said the Church’s help in providing basic necessities has been valuable. “Despite heavy floods we join Sunday Mass to encourage each other,” he added.
As floodwaters cover large parts of central Thailand, the Church continues to be a refuge for people like Urai and Sitthisak, who have been severely affected by the disaster.
The flood has risen to almost two metres in some areas of the historic city of Ayutthaya, home to several major Catholic communities.
Parishioners of the Church of the Epiphany of the Lord, which serves the 1,000-strong Catholic community of Koh Yai in Ayutthaya, came to Mass on Oct 31 by boat. The church, which is on higher ground, is not flooded.
“The church has provided parishioners food and other necessities. We have also offered the upper floor of our school as temporary living space. Villagers can deposit their vehicles in our church and school compound, which are not flooded,” said parish priest Fr Surapong Maimonkol.
He added that the parish plans to coordinate with other organisations, like the Sacred Heart congregation of Bangkok.
Meanwhile, Fr Rangsipol Plienphan, secretary of Nakhon Sawan diocese, said his diocese is trying to reach the poorest villagers. “The high water levels are blocking aid convoys. Relief agencies must find ways to reach affected areas.” •