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Singapore: Is it Flooding, or Just Ponding?

On 23 December, 2011, heavy rains caused flash floods in various parts of Singapore, including around the popular shopping belt Orchard Road. This was neither a shocking or particularly unexpected occurrence, since the first time it happened was in June 2010.

Liat Towers high-rise development, which had been previously affected, activated its flood barrier system, but the floodwaters continued to pour into the basement, reaching knee height. Businesses such as Wendy's and Starbucks were badly affected.

However, Singapore's Public Utilities Board (PUB) stated that “there was no flooding at Orchard Road”, but that water had “ponded” at Liat Towers and other low-lying locations:

Flood waters reached up to a height of 30 cm for some areas and generally subsided within 1 hour, except at Cambridge Road, Newton Circus and junction of Moulmein Road and Thomson Road in front of United Square where waters subsided by 6pm. The affected areas are mainly low-lying areas.

There was no flooding at Orchard Road. However, water ponded at the open area of Liat Towers, the underpass between Lucky Plaza and Ngee Ann City, and the basement of Lucky Plaza due to the sustained heavy downpour

The use of the word “ponded” has led to much scorn and ridicule from Singaporeans online, with many tweeting under the hashtags #sgflood (as well as the new #sgponding).

@papayagirl: @mrbrown Ponding is when you can stand in it and complain. Flooding is when you are swept away by the water pressure. #sgflood

@MeilinS: According to PUB, I can now say that my work inbox is ponded by emails vs flooded with them. Thanks for the new word! #sgflood

@jB_Ng: I wonder if I rent a pushcart stall in Liat towers selling floats, would it be profitable? I'd pray for rain daily. #SgFlood#SgPonding

@contrabandkarma: See, Liat Towers has a nice little pond now. Just add fishes!

Photo from @contrabandkarma

@mrbrown: PUB is pleased announce that Singapore didn't flood yesterday. There was merely “water ponding”. #sgflood

Image from @mrbrown

@RealSingaporean also alluded to another recent Singaporean fiasco, the breakdown of SMRT trains:

@RealSingaporean: sooner or later, #smrt train faults will no longer be called “delays”, but “strategic pitstops” #sgponding #sgflood

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