Floods kill hundreds in Southeast Asia
BANGKOK — Massive floods have left 500 people dead across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, officials said Monday, as authorities stepped up efforts to reach victims of the unusually heavy monsoon rains.
In Thailand, where the death toll from the country's worst floods in decades rose to 269, thousands of soldiers fanned out across affected areas as part of a huge aid operation.
The Practical Buddhist Responds
The Practical Buddhist leaves for Bangkok early next week to visit friends, but the trip was planned long before the floods came.
Those friends have been in action from the start. One is a professor at a technical university who organized students, hooked up with a donor, and rode all night in a three-truck caravan to rescue and re-supply isolated mountain people north of the capital. They also ferried the old people to safety in boats supplied by the army. It seems that military-civilian collaboration isn't considered anything unusual when people are in need.
It's not so much that Thai people are helping each other; Americans can be pretty good at that too. What impresses me is that much of the help is 100% grassroots and spontaneous, and not considered extraordinary or special.
Thai Buddhists are no better or worse than Canadian Catholics or Muslims from Egypt. They just provide a nice perspective on compassion in action: they seem to think of a rescue mission as ordinary, like going to work in the morning.