Super high tides reaching 7 feet pushed inland at the end of March, again flooding coastal areas, homes and farms at low-lying areas. The flooding caused damage to properties, homes and producing farms.
Fortunately, the technology of smartphones with high resolution cameras ensured that pictures from all over documented this extreme tidal event.
The super tide rolled into low-lying residential areas on Koror’s coasts, in places such as Delui, Sechemus, Morisong, Iyebukel, Ngesaol and others. Coastal areas in Babelabaob, in both the west and the east, were flooded as well. Tides flooded into homes and taro patches in Ngchesar, taro patches in Ngiwal and into Ngeremlengui baseball fields to name a few.
Uchel says he has been living in Sechemus for over 18 years, and he has seen changes in the tides. During last month’s tidal event, he watched waters rise around his neighbors’ homes, which are across from his own. “The tide came up to the floor level of one of the homes. If the tide does go to 7.3 feet as predicted, it will flood into those homes,” he added. He said his house was okay because he built it 20 inches above ground and backfilled his yard fronting the ocean. This, he said, helped raise his home above the tide, but he plans to fill it up again.
Some people who were affected from previous king tides had abandoned their homes and relocated to other locations.
In Ngchesar, around Karmaliang dock, some of the homes between the coast and mangroves were flooded and taro patches were inundated with salt water.
In Koror, taro patches in Idid and Ngesaol as well as other communities were also flooded with salt water. Plants turned yellow and brown the day after the first tide. Years and months of crops were destroyed in matter of days, and will take months and years to regain crops and losses.
Taro expert from PCAA Leonard Basilius said that it will take at least a whole week of big rains to wash out salt water. “It will take a full week of rain to dilute the salt water in the taro patches and one has to wait to see new growth of weeds as a sign that salt has been washed away,” he said.
According to the Palau weather station, “In general, Palau experiences its highest annual ocean water levels as a result of these higher late fall-winter-early spring tides ((Sep to Dec)-(Dec to March)-(March to June)). The last event’s High waters were forecasted between 6.1 to 6.3 feet. Observations showed over 7ft from March 29 to March 31.
For the months of April to June, looking at the High Waters forecast, the highest tides are predicted to come on the full moon and two days after. For April 27, high tides will be at 6.4 to 6.6ft, on May 26 at 6.4 to 6.6ft, and on June 25 6.3 to 6.5ft.
The Palau Climate Change assessment report for 2020 states that “Sea level rise – Palau experiences large fluctuations in sea level from year to year due to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Despite this natural variability, sea level is rising in Palau and will exacerbate high tide flooding, storm surge, and coastal erosion.”
The next expected super king tide is at the end of this month, with predictions of highs of 7.3 inches. Abandoning low lying areas may not always be possible for many people.
Knowing this phenomenon is recurring and with knowledge of rising sea levels, greater awareness, planning and mitigation efforts are needed in order to continue to live with rising tides. (By: L.N. Reklai)

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