Central provinces report $1.3 bln flood damage, seek more government aid

By Hoang Tao   November 27, 2020 | 08:38 pm PT
Central provinces report $1.3 bln flood damage, seek more government aid
What's left of a house following flash floods in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam, November 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
Six central provinces that were hit by unprecedented floods and storms for over a month have asked for more relief aid from the government.

Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam, and Quang Ngai said the disasters that occurred repeatedly between late September and mid-November destroyed more than 1,500 houses and damaged 240,000 others besides destroying farms and killing livestock and poultry.

The losses exceed VND30 trillion ($1.29 billion), their senior officials said at a conference in Quang Tri on Friday.

Vo Phien, deputy chairman of Quang Ngai, said some people aged around 90 told the authorities they had never lived through a storm as powerful as Molave, which hit on October 28.

"It was the first time in their life they had seen such strong winds they said. They even described seeing bamboo trees being twisted by the wind as if they were strings."

In that storm, which has been confirmed by meteorologists as one the strongest to hit Vietnam in 20 years, Quang Ngai lost 1,600 hectares (3,953 acres) of rice and vegetables, 3,400 hectares of permanent crops and many schools were damaged.

"Quang Ngai wants the government to give VND1.625 trillion aid to help people resume agriculture," Phien said.

Ha Tinh deputy chairman Dang Ngoc Son said the province suffered losses of VND5.5 trillion.

Ke Go, an artificial reservoir, "had received rainfall that might fall just once every 1,000 years," he claimed.

He wanted the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review the state of the lake that is situated 15 km (nine miles) from the province capital, warning "the reservoir is nothing less than a bag full of water hanging just above the town."

In October central Vietnam was hit by four storms that came with three series of severe flooding and set off deadly landslides, with the six provinces suffering the most.

The rain that fell between October 6 and 13 was two to six times the normal amount.

Ha Tinh Province received 150-400 mm, Quang Binh 400-500 mm, Quang Tri 800-1,500 mm, Thua Thien Hue 1,300-2,000 mm, Da Nang City 1,100 mm, Quang Nam 900-1,200 mm, and Quang Ngai 600-800 mm.

To put it somewhat in perspective, rainfall of 180 mm a day is considered heavy.

Ho Quang Buu, deputy chairman of Quang Nam Province, said, "After the floods and storms we went on a field trip and found some places had almost returned to the Stone Age.

"Storms, floods and landslides killed 42 people and left 19 others missing in the province, and causes material losses of almost VND10 trillion."

Thua Thien-Hue Province sought VND1.4 trillion and Quang Tri wanted VND3.2 trillion.

Quang Binh asked for funds to relocate families facing threats of more landslides and buy 2,000 tons of rice seedlings.

In response, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said his ministry would recommend that the government should add VND8 trillion to the proposed aid.

So far the government has provided VND1.25 trillion to nine provinces, Nghe An, Binh Dinh and Kon Tum in the Central Highlands being the others, besides 16,000 tons of rice.

International organizations and some countries have provided monetary assistance and essential goods worth $21.5 million.

Agriculture minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the disaster-hit localities should ensure no one is left without food.

His ministry would help their farmers resume agriculture by switching to short-term crops and shrimp, fish and poultry to partially recover their losses by Lunar New Year, which falls in mid-February.

"It is necessary to have a complete reassessment to restructure agriculture sector and the rural economy in the central region to adapt them to the increasingly extreme changes in climate.

"We must learn to adapt to more floods and storms and find long-term solutions for them."

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