FC-6 (Flooded Homes) 2

Despite the trauma of the debilitating flood, Radion International's staff and street kids "waded through the flood waters, making their way back to office, not just to be present, but to be counted", says Eugene Wee. All photos courtesy of Eugene Wee.

Sunday, September 25: An ominous storm forecast puts northern Thailand on nervous alert.

News reports warn of tropical storm Noru, expected to make landfall in Thailand after sweeping through Philippines, Vietnam and Laos. It is moving inexorably westwards towards Thailand, packing wind speeds of up to 140kph at its centre.

“Many were fearful, but we were reminded that in the darkest of times, our faith should shine the brightest.”

People living near mountains and natural waterways are advised to brace for waterway overflows and flash floods. 

But within hours, Noru intensifies from a tropical storm to a super typhoon, with maximum sustained winds of 195kph, driving before it intense rainfall that floods whole villages, and violent winds that damages homes, uproots trees and disrupts lifeline services of power, communications and water.

Monday, October 3: Super Typhoon Noru slams into Chiangmai with such force that a video of a 500-year-old pagoda crumbling after a week of intense rain goes viral.

Landslides and massive flooding throughout Chiangmai wreak havoc. The Ping River rises to 4.6m, the highest on record in 10 years, inundating large swathes of land, contaminating water sources and leaving thousands stranded in the flood waters.

Radion’s flooded premises, which includes a children’s shelter.

Amidst the pandemonium, the children and staff in the small compound of Radion International, a relief agency dedicated to serving the community’s vulnerable, are hunkering down. 

“Some of our homes are in the water, our children’s shelter and office were also flooded in the night,” Radion‘s co-founder and Executive Director Eugene Wee tells Salt&Light.

“Many were worried, fearful even, but as we gathered, we were reminded that in the darkest of times, our faith should shine the brightest.”

Eugene describes the dreadful chaos, the rising panic, but the determined faith of their small team of staff and youthful beneficiaries who live in the children’s shelter as, in the midst of their own dire circumstances, they are seeking to bring aid to the stranded families around them.  

State of emergency

We are hurting.

This place is home to our StreetKIDS, and for many of them, it’s the only safe home they know.

This morning, their only home was covered in flood waters, the way to school was too deep even for our trucks to pass though.

Our electrical pumps, the ground water and sewage systems have all been damaged by the flood waters. The field that the kids have watered over the past six months is now a mud slush under knee depth water.

Many of the children and youths staying in Radion’s shelter have never known any other home.

Our child recovery centre and office was not spared, with waters rushing onto our premise and causing substantial damage across the entire property.

“We are hurting. But so are so many families around us.”

This is an enormous setback for us, as this family service centre was just opened in August 2022, a milestone in our ministry’s 15-year journey in helping trauma victims and their families.

What was once an oasis of Hope, is now covered in knee-deep waters. The fish ponds, the agricultural fields, accommodation spaces, office grounds, electricals and vehicles, all suffered flood damage.

Beyond the centre, many of our local staff’s homes were also affected by the floods.

This morning, there was visible discouragement amongst our staff. But I reminded them that, despite all that has happened to us, we still have things to be thankful for.

For one, our water filtration plant is still functional. We have an emergency supply to last us a week, and we have dried rations that can used to help others.

Indeed we are hurting. But so are so many families around us.

Rescued from the streets, these kids are now rescuing others

In the darkest of circumstances, a beautiful picture of faith started to unfold.

The staff team rallied together – putting their needs aside, their homes behind them, wiping their tears away.

Youths from Radion’s StreetKIDS programme packing their own emergency supplies to deliver to families through thigh-high floodwaters.

Each of them waded through the flood waters, making their way back to office, not just to be present, but to be counted.

The team organised themselves into relief teams. Our StreetKIDS took out the emergency food supplies and packed them into relief packs, the staff organised the logistics and, team by team, they went out.

Wading through flood water, street by street, home to home, in their #KeepGoing shirts, to deliver not just a relief pack, but a message of Hope to the stranded families.

Wading through the floodwaters, home by home, to show practical love to the villagers.

In the past week, our teams delivered life saving aid to 728 families, and went the extra mile to open up a water treatment plant so that affected families can come to tap clean drinking water to tide them through this crisis.

Their act of faith, is remarkable. Because it’s not in the absence of pain; but in spite of the pain, that they undertook the tasks.

The act of sacrifice, the act of love and putting others before themselves, is something we can all learn from.

There is nothing more beautiful than to see a people loving the needy, even when we are in a similar plight.

This is what faith in action looks like.

Delivering basic food and necessities to the stranded elderly.

Friday, October 7: Flood waters have gone down around the city, but the dams will have to release water in the next couple of days as it is reaching its threshold.

“Wading through flood water, street by street, home to home, they delivered not just relief packs, but a message of Hope.”

We should expect the water levels to rise again in Chiangmai.

The rebuilding will take time, and the risk of a secondary flood is still there. So do keep us in prayer and continue to help us spread the word.

The journey ahead isn’t going to be easy for all of us. Much rebuilding needs to be done both within the communities and at our own premises.

In one flood, we have lost much. 

The flood has washed away many things, but what stood out clearly through the waters, is the peculiar faith of a group of people who didn’t just speak about God’s love, but lived it.

Pray for our staff’s safety as well as for the flood waters to recede.

Here's how you can help in rescue and recovery in the Chiangmai Flood Crisis 2022

RADION International is a Christian relief and development agency serving vulnerable communities. Key programmes include child rescue and recovery, community development, and crisis relief.

They estimate flood damages and relief assistance to cost roughly between S$150,000-S$250,000, and are accepting contributions towards this relief effort.

To date, Radion has raised S$86,380, and more help is needed.

Giving channels have been opened, and you can contribute to Radion’s effort via Internet Banking, SG QR or via our website at : https://www.radion-international.org/give_crisisrelief/


“If these children with HIV can praise God, why can’t I?” cried out Radion’s Eugene Wee when his family lost everything

“If these children with HIV can praise God, why can’t I?” cried out Radion’s Eugene Wee when his family lost everything

“If I asked you to stay in Thailand for 10 years and not see a single fruit, would you obey?” God asked Radion’s Eugene Wee

About the author

Juleen Shaw

Salt&Light Managing Editor Juleen hails from the newsrooms of Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp Publishing. She has had two encounters with baptismal pools. The first was at age four when her mother, who was holding her hand, tripped and fell into the church baptismal pool, taking Juleen with her. The second was when she actually chose to get baptised.