Evacuation measures only partially effective for annually flooded central region

A host of central residents relocated to resettlement areas have lamented that the policy has left them in less than ideal circumstances, as they now lack land for agricultural production.

Hundreds of families who live close to the sea wait to be resettled in Quy Nhon town, Binh Dinh Province (Photo: SGGP)

In the historic flood of 1999, which severely devastated the central region, the Vu Gia riverside village Phuong Trung was eliminated in Dai Quang Commune, Dai Loc District, Quang Nam Province. The village residents had nothing left as their houses together with other properties were swept into the sea.

Local authorities then decided to build a new village on a hill, 3 kilometers from the old village, to evacuate residents without any plan for farming production. Over the past ten years, people there have lived a difficult life.

Le Thi Kim, 62-year-old woman said that she is single but has to bring up her brother’s two orphaned children and her 86-year-old mother. Everyday, she leaves the village early in the morning to seek any work, including doing housework and taking care of other children in order to buy food.

“I am old now and just wish to have a garden to cultivate rice and vegetables,” she said.

Another village inhabitant named Pham Van Vinh said that he could not raise pigs or chicken as they all die due to the sweltering weather. He said his family earned VND30 million from breeding and selling groceries each year when they lived in the old village.

Also after the 1999 flood, 18 households in Ha Lac Village, Quang Loi Commune, Quang Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province were evacuated to a resettlement area. After over 10 years, they continue to experience a rough existence without electricity, paved roads, fresh water or schools. As a result, 14 of the 18 households have left their resettlement homes to return the old village or have traveled to other provinces and cities to earn livelihoods.

Hundreds of resettlement areas have been built in Thua Thien-Hue since 2005, in response to floods and storms. However, several residents have left the new houses to return to their old homes. As a result, the number of people that must evacuate when floods and storms occur still tops 80,000 in the province each year.

Resettlement

Hundreds of tottery houses are found dangerously close to waves that crash along the beaches in Hoai Nhon, Phu My and Phu Cat districts and Quy Nhon town of Binh Dinh Province.

One year after his house was swallowed by ocean tides, Vo Ngoc Van’s family, in Nhon Ly Commune of Quy Nhon town, is still awaiting resettlement.

Van’s house fell into the sea due to heavy rains caused by a tropical low-pressure system that swept through the area in May of 2009. His family has had to live with relatives. He said that local authorities have promised to arrange resettlement for his family, but one year has gone by and they have done nothing.

Most households said they agreed to evacuate from landslide prone areas to new resettlement areas, according to Pham Dung, who resettled at An My Commune in Phu My District. However, life remains difficult for them; to build a new house costs tens of millions, while the State only assists each family with VND10 million (US$526).

Binh Dinh People’s Committee has arranged resettlement for nearly 2,300 households in the province. However, they reported difficulties implementing this plan, due to a lack of capital.

Effective solution

The first flood-prevention houses in the central region were built in Ngu Hanh Son District of Danang City. Each two-story home was built solidly on 300 square meters and include a bathroom, reading room, kitchen and container that can hold 1,000 liters of fresh water.

A flood-prevention house in Ngu Hanh Son District, Danang City (Photo: SGGP)

Last year, when local people rushed to these houses to avoid floods, rescuers easily delivered rice and instant noodles to each house using motorboats.

The Central Natural Disasters Relief Fund has sponsored construction of 21 works to prevent natural disasters in low-lying areas in 10 central provinces and cities, said the fund director Nguyen Dang Lam.

The houses are used not only for avoiding floods, but also for other activities including musical performances, medical checks and treatment and teaching.

The fund will continue financing the building of another 30 works, including 15 flood-prevention houses in the region this year, Lam revealed.

On the other hand, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai from Quang Binh Province said that the State should provide residents with loans to rebuild or reinforce their houses, which would ease the local authorities’ pressure to evacuate residents during storm and flood seasons.

By staff writers – Translated by Hai Mien

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