Recompense for flood losses caused by dam discharge, hydropower plant told

By Nguyen Dong, Dac Thanh   November 6, 2020 | 11:40 am GMT+7
Recompense for flood losses caused by dam discharge, hydropower plant told
The Dak Mi 4 hydropower plant discharges water at 106 cubic meters per second at around 5 p.m. in Quang Nam Province, November 2, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
Quang Nam Province authorities want a hydropower company to pay compensation to hundreds of families affected by its discharge of water when Storm Molave hit last month.

Molave, said to be among the strongest storms to ever hit Vietnam, made landfall over Quang Nam on October 28, causing heavy rains, floods and landslides.

At around 3:45 p.m. that day the dam at the Dak Mi 4 hydropower plant in Nam Giang District recorded inflows of 15,571 cubic meters per second (cms), and the dam operator decided to discharge 6,136 cms of water from it.

Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the discharge was increased to 7,074 cms before it was gradually reduced.

At a meeting between the Dak Mi 4 Hydropower Joint Stock Company management and Nam Giang authorities on Wednesday, A Viet Son, deputy chairman of the district people’s committee, said the discharge caused floods and destroyed houses in Thanh My Town and Ca Dy Commune, affecting over 100 families.

"The hydropower plant discharged water right after storm Molave’s landfall, and the people could not cope with both the storm and the floods at the same time."

The flood came just 30 minutes after the company issued a public warning that it was discharging water, and so no one had enough time to move their belongings, Son said.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, deputy director of the company, said the firm had informed district authorities in time, but the public address system in Thanh My had problems at that time.

"Before the flood season, we checked the public address systems and they were working fine. But when the floods came, they were no longer working."

The company followed discharge protocol, he said.

The discharge rate was increased gradually, he said.

While the inflow into the dam was 15,500 cms, the discharge was only 7,000 cms, he pointed out.

Nguyen Dang Chuong, head of the district Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said while the water discharge was done appropriately, communication between the firm and the district committee for natural disaster prevention and control has not been good.

"The public address system was damaged and the phone network was disrupted. That was why the information reached the public so slowly."

But Son said even if the protocol for water discharge was followed, if it causes losses to the public, it needs "reconsideration."

"Luckily no one was hurt. The hydropower company should lend a helping hand however so that people are reassured."

Ho Quang Buu, deputy chairman of the province people’s committee, said the company needs to inform authorities and the public about discharge of water earlier and fix the public address system.

He also called on it to cooperate with authorities to compensate people for their losses.

Binh said his company will be cooperating with district authorities to compensate people in accordance with relevant regulations.

Nothing left

A week after the devastating flooding on October 28, several houses in Ben Giang village in Thanh My Town are still in a shambles.

A Lang Thi Duoc, 38, said her house has not been rebuilt yet. All that is left of it is the roof and some debris.

Before Molave made landfall, people living along rivers, including Duoc, her husband and their two daughters, were evacuated.

At around 6 p.m. on October 28, after the storm had blown over, when Duoc’s family was returning home they saw the flood rise in the river behind their house.

A blackout in the neighborhood caused the phone network and public address system to fail.

She says: "We did not have time to take anything with us. We just ran for our lives. We thought we could return home after Molave passed, but now there is nothing left."

A Lang Thi Duoc, 38, stands before what used to be her house a week ago in Quang Nam Province. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

A Lang Thi Duoc, 38, stands before what a week ago used to be her house in Quang Nam Province, November 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

Next to theirs, two other houses were submerged in the flood. On the other side of the road, BNuoch Nhua, 30, was drying his textbooks and picking some of his mud-caked clothes for washing.

He said he had never seen a flood so fast or so strong in his entire life. The sound of the water rushing from the river onto the streets and splashing against the walls sent Nhua, his wife and their two children sprinting toward the hills behind their house for safety.

They managed to take refuge in the district’s military command.

He says: "My house was under two meters of water. The TV, the fridge and all other belongings are ruined."

The waters did not recede until around 8 p.m. As people were picking up the pieces of their homes, Nhua saw his home was still standing but without its fence.

As of Friday Nam Giang authorities were still estimating the losses. They will soon seek compensation from the Quang Nam People’s Committee.

 
 
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