Central Vietnam scrambles to strengthen embankments as storm Nakri nears

By Pham Linh, Xuan Ngoc, Phan Anh   November 9, 2019 | 07:00 am PT
Central Vietnam scrambles to strengthen embankments as storm Nakri nears
A man in Nhon Hai Commune, Binh Dinh Province use rocks to fortify a coastal dam November 9, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Thach Thao.
South central Vietnam rushed to fortify embankments and evacuate people Saturday, with Nakri, expected to be the strongest storm of the year, looming large.

The storm is expected to make landfall Sunday night.

"We heard that storm Nakri was stronger than Matmo, so we are repairing the sea dyke in a hurry," said 65-year-old Nguyen Van Khan, a resident of Nhon Hai Commune, Quy Nhon Town, Binh Dinh Province.

Locals have been using sand bags and rocks to fortify the commune’s coastal embankment since Friday afternoon, he said.

Another local, Nguyen Van Cho, whose house was damaged by storm Matmo last month, said he and his wife would evacuate to their son’s house further inland.

About 140 families in Nhon Hai would be evacuated from the area Sunday morning, said Nguyen Tien Dung, deputy chairman of the Quy Nhon People’s Committee.

Authorities have also recommended that residents of Cat Minh Commune evacuate to other people’s houses in safer areas due to the Nui Ganh rockslides, promising to arrange new residences after the storm passes.

Over 1,000 families in Phuoc Thuan, Phuoc Son, Phuoc Hoa and Phuoc Thang communes have also been advised to evacuate, said Tran Chau, deputy chairman of Tuy Phuoc District People’s Committee.

Quy Nhon Port has stopped goods delivery since Saturday morning as it prepares for the incoming storm. 56 of its ships are safely anchored, officials said.

In Phu Yen Province, Vo Sang, 62, a resident of Xuan Hai Commune, has fortified his home with sand bags and rocks. He has also called back his fishing vessels and boats. "Everyone in the neighborhood is preparing for the storm," he said.

In Sang’s neighborhood, Nguyen Van Duc, 30, said his house’s roof was blown after storm Matmo made landfall in the province last month. His neighbors have helped him repair the roof, but the incoming storm Nakri might just put their efforts to waste.

"I only hope the skies are calm," he said.

At least 4,000 people in Phu Yen live in areas vulnerable to Nakri’s impacts. Pham Dai Duong, Chairman of the province, has requested that residents living near the coast, rivers and areas vulnerable to erosion evacuate before 12 p.m. Sunday.

In Quang Ngai Province, residents of Ly Son Island and the districts of Mo Duc and Duc Pho have been fortifying their houses. Workers of its environment deparment have also chopped down big trees to prevent them from falling on power lines during the storm. 

5,000 soldiers have also been dispatched by the provincial border guard command to support citizens in the event of flooding. Deputy Chairman of the Quang Ngai People’s Committee, Nguyen Tang Binh, has asked town and district authorities to warn people living in areas vulnerable to floods, tornadoes and erosion, and to evacuate them to safety.

In Khanh Hoa Province, several warning signs of rough seas have been erected on beaches of the popular tourist destination, Nha Trang Town. Locals have also been using sand bags from the beaches to fortify their homes.

Khanh Hoa authorities would ban ships from coming in and out of its islands starting Sunday noon, said Le Tan Ban, director of the Khanh Hoa Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province has about 276 points vulnerable to flooding, 88 in Nha Trang, said the Khanh Hoa Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Rescue. Over 33,000 people living in these areas would be evacuated if they get flooded.

"People [living in areas vulnerable to the storm’s effects] can either go to their relatives’ houses, or the town can provide them with safe shelters. We have prepared food and plans to protect people’s properties," said Nguyen Sy Khanh, deputy chairman of the Nha Trang People’s Committee.

Storm gets closer

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, Nakri’s center was about 450 km away from Vietnamese shores from Quang Ngai to Khanh Hoa provinces. Its maximum wind speed was 115 kph, said the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

In the next 24 hours, the storm would move west at 10-15 kph. By 4 p.m. Sunday, the storm is expected to be about 150 km off Vietnamese shores from Quang Ngai to Khanh Hoa, with a maximum wind speed of 115 kph, the center added.

Nakri would make landfall in provinces from Quang Ngai to Khanh Hoa within the next 48 hours, with wind speeds 9-10 on the Beaufort scale, before devolving into a tropical depression, weather experts have said.

The Hong Kong Observatory and the Japan Meteorological Agency have forecast the storm to make landfall in south central Vietnam on Sunday evening or night.  The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory expects Nakri to make landfall early Monday morning.

Nakri has already caused heavy rain in Khanh Hoa since Saturday morning, said Le Dinh Hai, chairman of the Truong Sa District People’s Committee.

The storm is expected to flood regions between Thua Thien-Hue and Khanh Hoa provinces and the Central Highlands between Saturday night and Tuesday. Heavy rain should also be expected from Thua Thien-Hue to Ninh Thuan and the Central Highlands from Saturday night to Tuesday, ranging from 100 mm to 400 mm. Rainfall of 180 mm in 24 hours is considered heavy.

Central Vietnam, home to popular tourist destinations like Nha Trang and Quy Nhon, was hit by storm Matmo last month. The storm felled hundreds of trees, damaged many houses and caused widespread flooding in Phu Yen, Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai provinces.

Storm Nakri is said to be much stronger, and vulnerable areas are bracing for heavy damage.

Vietnam is hit by up to 10 tropical storms during the southwest monsoon season, usually between July and October. There were nine last year.

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