Floods hit western Singapore

Stormwater cascaded down escalators and walls at a linkway near Kent Ridge MRT Station yesterday. Photo: Ho Kinh Dat
Flash floods in Commonwealth. Photo: Nelson Ng
A car hit by a tree that was struck by lightning along 6th Avenue. Photo: Vincent Sim
Flood at the AYE yesterday morning. Photo: Mitchell Mixue
Flash floods at Commonwealth. Photo: Jennifer Lee
Closure of a stretch of a major expressway due to flash floods unacceptable, says Balakrishnan
Published: 4:03 AM, September 6, 2013
Updated: 4:53 PM, September 12, 2013
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SINGAPORE — Flash floods, uprooted trees and massive traffic jams were reported in many areas yesterday morning after a thunderstorm lasting over an hour dumped copious amounts of rain over the central and western parts of the island. The flash floods led to the unprecedented closure of a stretch of a major highway, the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

Meanwhile, parts of the Kent Ridge MRT Station, commuters said, resembled a stormwater drain, as water cascaded down escalators and walls. Several motorists reported that their cars had been inundated with water, and uprooted trees made it a miserable morning for other drivers. One fallen tree at Dunearn Road damaged three cars and obstructed three lanes, according to the National Parks Board.

The intense thunderstorm was behind at least four reported cases of fallen trees at Bukit Timah, Outram and Bukit Batok, but no injuries were reported.

At the National University of Singapore (NUS), students and staff had to wade through knee-high waters in some areas, as the heavy rain caused flooding at the science and engineering faculties.

Yesterday’s flooding was the most widespread since 2010, when parts of Orchard Road were inundated, rendering the busy Scotts Road junction all but impassable to traffic, the closure of several businesses and millions of dollars worth of losses. That episode led to a raft of measures to control flooding in several vulnerable areas, some of which are in progress till this day.

At the AYE, the drains overflowed due to the intense rainfall and rising tide, said the national water agency PUB. “Flood waters reached a depth of half a metre and subsided within 40 minutes,” it added.

This was the second time a stretch of the AYE, which spans 26.5km between Telok Blangah and Tuas, was inundated. On Feb 8, a stretch near the 9.6km mark had experienced a flash flood due to intense rain. One lane was affected then but the expressway was passable to traffic, said the PUB. This prompted the authority to draw up plans to upgrade drainage capacity at this stretch.

Still, the closure of a stretch of a major expressway due to flash floods was unacceptable, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event at the NUS, he said: “I think it is not acceptable to have a major expressway shut down because of a flood. I have told PUB that we’ve got to do our best to make sure that this doesn’t recur in the future.”

Posting on his Facebook page earlier, he said the expansion of the Sungai Pandan Kechil — one of two canals that overflowed — would be expedited.

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