Edited by Sushil Vachani and Jawed Usmani
Chapter 4: Climate-proofing a concrete island: improving state and societal climate adaptation capacities in Singapore
Yesterday's event, I was told by the PUB [Public Utilities Board], occurs once every 50 years. It could be tomorrow. But we have to plan accordingly. Most importantly, we have to have a proper drainage system . . . [that is] being continually upgraded, and a proper response system. (Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, 20 November 2009, quoted in Popatlal 2009) The quote above refers to Dr Yaacob's response on flash floods that had occurred in various parts of Singapore on 19 November 2009. While flash floods in Singapore are considered to be a low-risk occasional occurrence particularly during the monsoon season, there has been a growing visibility of higher flood levels in recent years. Approximately half a year after this statement about intense flash floods being a once in 50 years phenomenon, however, Singapore again experienced flash floods, but this time in the heart of the city-state's prime commercial area, Orchard Road in June 2010 and then again in June 2011. Images of the flooded busy traffic junctions were a stark contrast to the glitzy buildings surrounding it and left many members of the public shocked that such an event, commonly seen in Jakarta or Manila, was happening in relatively disaster-free Singapore.
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