Date: 22 January 1999

Source: The New Paper

Why Orchard Road will never flood…

By Fong Foong Mei

Well, almost never.

For a flood to hit anywhere in Singapore, it takes a combination of high tides and about 100mm of rainfall within an hour.

And Orchard Road is protected by its mighty rain drain - the Stamford Canal.

Thanks to it, shoppers haven't had to slosh through waist-deep waters since 1960s.

But what makes a good drain?

According to a Ministry of Environment (ENV) spokesman, it's the flow capacity of a drain and not its storage capacity.

In other words, it isn't the size of the boat that matters, but the motion of the ocean.

And Orchard Road's supersucker had plenty of that.

It can empty an Olympic-sized pool before your cup of latte has time to cool.

It's very handy around this time, with La Nina is expected to bring about more wet days in the next two months.

La Nina is the weather phenomenon responsible for the heavier rains and cooler temperatures around the region.

Already, it has increased rainfall by 25 to 30 percent this year, noted a Meteorological Service spokesman.

Singapore's worst ever flood happened in 1978 when 512 mm fell in 24 hours.

Seven people died in that flood.

To prevent such disasters from recurring, the Government has spent some $1.1 billion since 1984 on about 800 km of drains all over Singapore.

How can you do your bit to avoid doing your shopping in sampans?

Simple. Just don't chuck your rubbish in the drains. Let the rain drains do their work, and go with the flow.

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