Central residents take each day as it comes after historic storm

November 14, 2020 - 07:19

Two weeks have passed since Storm Molave weakened, but residents in central provinces are still struggling to clear up the aftermath.


Volunteers from Quảng Nam Province's Red Cross Chapter help rebuild a local resident's roof. Thousands of houses in the central region were destroyed by Storm Molave, one of the worst storms Việt Nam has had in 20 years. VNS Photo Bảo Hoa

Minh Phương & Bảo Hoa

CENTRAL REGION Two weeks have passed since Storm Molave weakened, but residents in central provinces are still struggling to clear up the aftermath.

Molave was the ninth storm to hit Việt Nam and one of the worst storms the country has seen in the past 20 years.

At least 29 people were killed and 51 others are still missing.

While another storm, Vamco, was forecast to make landfall today, houses in the central region are still being repaired, and some villagers don’t even have a roof above their heads.

Phan Thị Tàu, 85, in Quảng Ngãi Province, has been living with her neighbours after Storm Molave blew her roof off.

“When I came back home after the storm, my house was destroyed. I was so sad that I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

“I just wanted to cry at that moment, but I couldn’t. Crying cannot help fix my house.

“I have to stay at other people’s houses. The house was destroyed so how can I live here now, I have to move to other people’s houses.”

Trương Thị Lý, 47, in Quảng Nam Province, also lost her house to the deadly storm.

“Everything was blown away. There was nothing left. The roof was also blown away,” she said.

“I went to work that day. The wind was so strong that I could not go back home. My kids had to evacuate to other places.”

The five coastal provinces of Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Quảng Nam, and Quảng Ngãi are the most vulnerable localities in Việt Nam to typhoons and storms.

Years of experience could not prevail over the unpredictability of disasters, said Trương Xuân Tý, Quảng Nam’s deputy agriculture director and member of the steering committee for natural disaster prevention, search and rescue.

“Each province has its own national disaster prevention and control plans. However, Storm Molave was too unpredictable and fierce,” he said.

“The areas where the landslides happened were not covered in the plan. We need to reevaluate to have an accurate assessment for the next five years.

“That plan will be updated and include extraordinary natural disaster scenarios so we can have an appropriate response and an accurate forecast to warn residents about disasters and have proper precautions.”

The authority will do their best to help residents get back on their feet, Tý added.

“We will keep searching for missing people. We will also try to support residents so they can recover from storm and get back to normal life,” he said.

“Schools were set to reopen. And Quảng Nam Province is about to go into production, so the irrigation, electricity and traffic systems must be repaired to be ready for production.”

Support has poured into the region from all over the country. Food, cash, and household items have been sent.

Local and international groups have collaborated to help those affected, including the United Nations Development Programme who helped the local Red Cross chapters to repair some 300 damaged houses.

While house repairs provide a quick fix for families to return to their homes, UNDP said its support intents to include specific resilient features, which will help them withstand the impacts of strong typhoons, floods, and climate extreme events to protect people and their household possessions.

These features have already been tested and proven successful through a joint UNDP-Green Climate Fund-Government project on coastal resilience that has been running since 2017, the organisation said.

“We believe that the more storm and flood resilient houses are built, the less people will suffer from loss and damages, and with safe homes and protected property the less people will need emergency support in the future for housing repair,” said Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam.

“We commend the Government for the swift adoption of the Resolution No. 165/NQ-CP dated 5 November 2020, on providing financial support to families whose houses have been destroyed or damaged by recent natural disasters in 11 central provinces of Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum.

“We would like to collaborate with the Government, the private sector, development partners and individuals to join hands with us to build more resilient houses to ensure that no one is left behind.”

According to a recent study by UNDP and the Ministry of Construction, there is a large need of support to build 109,211 resilient houses in 28 coastal areas, of which 24,884 are of urgent need to protect people lives and their properties.

UNDP also made an initial delivery of 800 gender-responsive household kits, 30 tonnes of chemicals for disinfection, five sets of equipment for floods and storm for real time assessment and monitoring to the authorities in Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi.

The organisation is expected to leverage another US$1 million for response and recovery efforts.

Volunteers from the Red Cross Society have come to help villagers rebuild their homes and prepare for the next storms.

“The Red Cross has been a coordinator of humanitarian actions, receiving disaster-relief goods from different individuals and organisations to help local residents overcome the consequences of natural disasters,” said Lê Tấn Minh, chairman of Quảng Nam Red Cross.

“We have a detailed plan to collaborate with the authority and volunteers to evacuate people living in disaster-prone areas to safer ones,” he added.

“We will also instruct residents on how to secure their houses and store food if there is a new storm coming. And we will continue our role as a coordinator of charity efforts of people from all over the country.” VNS