CHIANG MAI, THAILAND (September 29, 2011) – Incessant rains caused flash flooding that threatens the fish hatchery operated by the Thailand Covenant Church, says Randy Bevis, missionary with the Evangelical Covenant Church Department of World Mission.
Bevis writes on his Facebook account, “The (two) ponds flooded out, but the fish are still in the ponds. So it could have been worse.”
Residents in parts of Chiang Mai, the country’s second-largest city, were evacuated earlier in the week to due the threat of flash floods. The area has been inundated with heavy rains that have fallen for more than nine weeks and killed more than 170 people.
The hatchery for red Tilapia is a critical source of income for local Chiang Mai farmers and Thailand Covenant Church ministries. If the flooding worsens, the farmers could lose all their fish, Bevis says.
Weather reports are not promising, however, as news organizations predict that more rain is expected.
Flooding overwhelmed the hatchery in 2006 and caused more than $90,000 worth of damage. The perimeter dikes were raised following that catastrophe, says Bevis.
In recent days, workers added about 500 sandbags to some lower spots and closed the inlets and outlets from the farm. “I think I got eaten by three leeches, from the looks of my legs, while capping off outlet pipes in the canals,” Bevis muses.
The Bevises have been working with the project for 14 years. The hatchery started with four acres in 1998 and a staff of six.
It has grown to two sites encompassing 15 acres for black tilapia and 12 acres for red tilapia. The hatchery now employs 36 people.
Covenant News Service will provide updates as information becomes available.