The town centre was hit by flash floods on Monday night, forcing many people to leave their homes. But rescue workers and soldiers were only able to provide inadequate flat-bottomed boats to evacuate them.
Floods were caused by heavy rain and water from the Phra Prong River in Sa Kaeo's Muang district flowing into the Hanuman River. Together, the two rivers form the Prachin Buri River in the district.
Flood levels in Kabin Buri measured 1.5 metres, with reports of water levels up to a maximum of 1.7 metre in some spots.
Residents slammed the mayor of Kabin Buri Rangsan Bootnian for failing to buy boats for emergency use, despite the fact that the district was hit by flooding every year, meaning evacuation efforts depended on rescue workers’ and soldiers’ boats.
They also complained that local authorities did not set up sufficient tents to distribute drinking water and food to the public.
Anant Arsa, a member of the Sawarng Bumpen Rescue Foundation, said providing practical help to flood-hit people was left to private rescue workers, while administrative officials merely issued orders to tackle the deluge through radio communications.
Although foundation staff received orders from a district office chief, he said they could not coordinate works with village headmen and kamnans - who would not listen to them - resulting in disjointed relief missions.
In the past two weeks, Mr Anant said rescue workers were forced to take charge of almost all flood relief duties, including arranging food for about 300 soldiers deployed to help in the area.
A military officer responsible for local relief operations said soldiers were ready to help when authorities sought their assistance. However, they faced difficulties in performing their duties because of a lack of support in terms of necessary equipment and food.
The officer, who declined to be named, said he and his men worked from early in the morning until noon, but were not given food by municipality officials.
“I asked the deputy district chief, who contacted us for help, but was told that I should coordinate with other agencies to get the food,” the officer said.
“When I asked if he would come to set up a rescue tent to help people, he said he could not come out of district office because the road was flooded. We are soldiers and should be able to depend on another governmental agency for equipment and food while working, not a private rescue unit.”
Water levels continued to rise in Kabin Buri market on Tuesday. All residents are expected to move out of their homes because authorities are planning to cut off electricity and tap water is beginning to be contaminated with flood water.
Many home owners have put up banners with messages attacking the authorities -- especially Prachin Buri governor Jittra Promchutima -- for being slow in helping them. One banner bears a sarcastic message reading: “house with nice floating market view for sale”.
A section of Road 304 from Sarm Taharn Community intersection to Panom Sarakarm, which connects with hospitals and government offices in Kabin Buri, is inundated with water and impassable for small vehicles.
Kabin Buri is one of four districts flooded in Prachin Buri, although the overall situation in the province is improving, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.
An update from the department meanwhile warned of rising water levels in Chachoengsao, Sa Kaeo, Ayutthaya and Sing Buri provinces.
Floods are still affecting 28 provinces, two million people and have claimed 36 lives, it added.
The Natural Disaster Warning Centre also put out an alert about flooding in Prachin Buri and Sa Kaeo.
The issue of flooding was tabled for discussion at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi told other ministers that water in flooded areas of Prachin Buri and Sa Kaeo would be completely drained in 10 days if no more rain hit the two provinces, deputy government spokesman Pakdiharn Himathongkham said.
In Ayutthaya, water from the Pasak River was seeping through the flood wall built two years ago, causing flooding in some areas of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district.
In Pathum Thani, the Chao Phraya River continues to overflow its banks in Muang and Sam Khok districts, according to Charn Puangphet, chief of the Prathum Thani Provincial Administration Organisation.