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Ulu Pandan landslide: Several Sunset Way residents unperturbed by flood risks, dozens turn down PUB's preventive devices

SINGAPORE — A number of residents living in Sunset Way near the Clementi and Ulu Pandan neighbourhoods were not too bothered about heavy downpours triggering flash floods, with some deciding not to accept inflatable devices and flood barriers such as sand bags provided by national water agency PUB.

A PUB staff member speaking to a resident along Sunset Way on Sept 6, 2022.

A PUB staff member speaking to a resident along Sunset Way on Sept 6, 2022.

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  • PUB distributed flood barriers and inflatable flood bags to residents living on Sunset Way and Sunset Drive after a landslide in nearby Ulu Pandan
  • This was done as a precautionary measure against the heightened risk of possible flooding around “the areas upstream of the canal blockage”, it said
  • Most residents who spoke to TODAY were not too concerned about flooding, with some declining the flood prevention devices
  • PUB said that half of the 50 households it visited accepted the devices

SINGAPORE — A number of residents living in Sunset Way near the Clementi and Ulu Pandan neighbourhoods were not too bothered about heavy downpours triggering flash floods, with some deciding not to accept inflatable devices and flood barriers such as sand bags provided by national water agency PUB.

PUB told TODAY that it has engaged residents of 50 homes in Sunset Way and “about half accepted our offer of the flood devices”. 

One 70-year-old resident, who identified herself as just Madam Yeo, said that she found the sandbags “useless”. “I do not feel threatened by the increasing rainfall. While the drains can be filled to the brim during rainy weather, I have not had water pour into my porch before.”

The retiree has lived in her landed property for more than 30 years.

PUB was distributing inflatable flood bags and portable flood barriers to homes along Sunset Way and Sunset Drive from Monday (Sept 5) afternoon as a precautionary measure, after a landslide occurred at a nearby construction site for a public housing project last Friday.

Recovery works are ongoing to stabilise the site of the landslide and to safely remove the dislodged soil in Sungei Ulu Pandan. The agency said in a Facebook post on Monday that the works will take time.

“With rainy weather expected in the first half of September, the areas upstream of the canal blockage may experience higher flood risk in the event of heavy rain."

The flood protection devices can be set up quickly during heavy rain, to prevent floodwaters from entering homes, it added.

They consist of individual lightweight panels that can be linked up and deployed quickly to divert floodwaters, while the flood bags inflate upon contact with water and can be stacked up to form a barrier.

PUB officers showing how to use portable flood barriers for its residential engagement at Sunset Way.
Flood prevention devices being delivered by PUB workers to households along Sunset Way on Sept 6, 2022.

Madam Yeo told TODAY that if she felt threatened by floods, she would buy materials “good enough to build a barrier to absorb the water and stop floodwaters from flowing in”, rather than use sandbags.

Another resident who gave her name as just Ms Daman, 51, also felt that she did not need flood barriers. 

“Some PUB personnel came by and were measuring my front gate. If I was told to have them, I would. But personally, I think I do not need them.”

The business owner who has lived at Sunset Way for two to three years added that since her house is on a tilt, rainwater flows downwards and away from her front porch rather than towards it. 

Like her, several house owners pointed out that even though there may be heavy rainwater flow on the roads facing their houses, there are safeguards such as existing drainage systems as well as upward-sloping areas between their gates and their house entrances, which help to keep off waters.

For those who were taking up prevention measures, some were doing so because rainwater had come close to their homes in the past.

A 55-year-old retiree who did not want to be identified was looking forward to receiving barricades and inflatable bags from PUB.

He has been living in a house located at the corner of Sunset Way for 16 years. It is situated right next to a cross junction of the lower ends of two roads flanked by high slopes. Rainwater “runs fast along two roads”, he said, greatly increasing water flow in front of his front gate.

The constant upgrading of PUB’s drainage system has helped the situation over the years, with drains having become “deeper and wider”, he added.

However, there is still water going into his property during periods of heavy rain, “which shouldn't happen”.

One other retiree in her 70s who gave her name as just Madam Chan decided to take the sandbags from PUB and not the barricades. She said that the sandbags “were less bulky and took up less space”. 

Having lived in her home for 20 years, she said that she had not experienced floods in the area. The only notable incident that was caused by heavy wind and rain happened “around two to three weeks back”. It resulted in a banana tree within her compound falling to its side.

For one resident, the news of the landslide last week was unexpected and worried her.

She did not want to be identified but said that the warnings of possible flooding this month has kept her on her toes.

She added that she has not yet been contacted by PUB officers regarding the situation when she spoke to TODAY on Tuesday afternoon.

As part of its outreach, PUB also engaged building owners in the vicinity to assist them with flood protection preparation.

When approached, shops and establishments located along Sunset Way told TODAY that they do not foresee any possible floods affecting their business.

A manager of an ice-cream cafe who gave her name as just Lisa said: “Flooding has not happened here before. There are only instances of ponding at the car park behind the shop during very heavy rain days.”

A worker in a childcare establishment who did not wish to be named said that there are no plans to prepare the centre for any flooding, adding that “the authorities have not yet paid a visit or given any warning to prepare” for such a scenario.

PUB said in its Facebook post on Monday that it has increased its deployment of Quick Response Team vehicles, which are on standby in upstream locations around Sungei Ulu Pandan, so that they can quickly respond to potential flash floods and provide assistance.

“We are also closely monitoring the rain forecast and water-level sensors in the canal, and will support National Parks Board to close the Ulu Pandan park connector for public safety when necessary."

Related topics

PUB floods Ulu Pandan sunset way flood barrier flash floods

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