Flood History

Imagine a dreaded scene of heavy thunderstorms, overflowing muddy water all around you as high as your knees, stranded cars, submerged corridors and waterlogged furniture in homes, and helpless people waiting for the rain to stop.

Flood at Owen Road in 1974.
Source: National Archives of Singapore.

Picture credit: Singapore Street Directory 1955

The whole area – bound by Owen Road, Dorset Road and Norfolk Road - was extremely flood prone from the 1950s to 1970s, inundating the area almost every year between December and February.

1954 was a year of several serious floods. On 27 February, an estimated 76 mm of rain flood many areas such as Rochor Road,  Thomson Road, Balestier Road, Orchard Road and Farrer Park (Pek Kio Estate). Flood waters, (0.6 – 1.2m deep) in some areas, affected hundreds of homes and many more people.

The Worst Flood History in Singapore

Haji Misiri, a resident of Pek Kio, vividly remembers these floods, “Once, in the 1970s, the flood came so quickly, we were not prepared for it. I had to swim,because if I walked, I couldn’t see drains or holes in the grounds.

Click to watch the video on the history of the worst floods in Singapore

The Flood Gauge

Located at the junction of Cambridge Road and Carlisle Road, this old one-metre flood gauge serves as a reminder of the frequent floods that occurred in this area, especially in the seventies. Such flood gauges were installed at many low-lying areas in Singapore then, to record the depths of the waters and the severity of the floods. Not many are left standing today.

Click to watch the video of MP Alvin Tan’s first parliamentary speech on 2 September 2020, where he mentions the flood gauge that still stands in Pek Kio as a poignant reminder of the past floods and the effects of climate change. Alvin Tan is the Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Culture, Community & Youth, Adviser to Tanjong Pagar GRC GROs (Moulmein-Cairnhill)