The picture, taken in the northern province of Yen Bai on August 9, was called photo of the day by many netizens moved by the heroism of those working to relieve the hardships faced by flood victims, especially in remote areas.
Torrential rains, floods and landslides have ravaged northern localities since early this month, killing at least 35 people in mountainous provinces, severely disrupting daily life and inflicting damage estimated at hundreds of billions of dồng.
Dinh Van Hai, 23, a solider from the Son La Military Command, said he walked about 12km daily, carrying 25kg rice bags to give to local residents.
“When I go through muddy places where houses, shops, and gardens of local residents once stood, I can really feel the disastrous impacts of the floods,” he said.
His colleague, Nguyen Minh Dong, 22, said “We start our jobs early in the morning and stop only when it is so dark that we cannot see anything.”
On August 11, 220 soldiers of the 2nd Military Region’s Division 316 were dispatched to evacuate residents from Phinh Ho Village in Yen Bai Province to a safe place to avoid landslides.
The soldiers built two wooden shelters in one day for the evacuated residents.
When Son La Province’s Nam Pam Commune was isolated by floods on August 2, the provincial Military Command immediately sent 95 soldiers to look for missing people and carry food as well as other basic necessities. The soldiers had to walk several kilometers to get to two remote villages of Pa Pieng and Huoi Soi.
Luong Van Dom, a resident of the commune said “The floods swept away everything, including our houses, animals and property.
“Nothing’s left,” he said.
With the residents totally lost, the soldiers carried food and drink and built temporary houses for them to live, he said.
Luong Van Son said his house’s roof was blown away, and he was very worried about fixing it when the soldiers helped him.
Hoang The Anh, deputy head of Muong La District’s Military Committee, said although the soldiers were very tired after walking all day for many days, they continued to work hard to help residents resume their daily life as soon as possible.
And it was not just soldiers who pitched in to help.
Cam Hoai My, who owns a restaurant in SonLa Province’s Ít Ong Town, served 200 free meals for rescue teams and local residents on August 3.
Nguyen Thi Phuong Lien, My’s neighbour, said she took 20 kilos of rice and went to the restaurant to help cook the meals.
Many teams of volunteers from other provinces also visited flood-hit areas in the northern mountainous provinces to support local residents.
Life after the floods is still hard. Residents of Yen Bai Province’s Mu Cang Chai District continue to live in temporary shelters, working very hard to resume their daily life.
But most children are already attending school thanks to support and encouragement from local administration and schools. Teachers and students have been back since Wednesday.
Giang Hoang Son, an eigth-grader at the Vo Thi Sau School who last his father to recently to the floods, said he wanted to go to school early.
“I wanted to go back quickly because I want to become an engineer like my father,” he said.
Pham Thi Thuy, principal of the Mu Cang Chai Primary-Secondary School, said 85 per cent of her students returned to school on Tuesday.
Local markets have also re-opened. The Mong ethnic-minority people started to bring vegetables and foods to sell near Nam Kim Stream in the district – where a flash flood killed 11 people on August 3.
Still at risk
Even as residents struggle to resume their lives, the the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting warned yesterday that rains are likely to continue battering northern provinces at least until Friday.
It said torrential downpours with the rainfall of up to 165mm could hit the provinces of Hà Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lai Châu, Hoa Binh and Quang Ninh.
The districts of Xin Man, Hoang Su PHi , Bat Xat, Bao Thang and Bac Ha in the mountainous provinces of Lao Cai and Hà Giang have been put on high alert of landslides since early morning. Water levels in the Hong and Thai Binh rivers are rising fast, the centre said.
All affected localities have prepared for emergencies with evacuation plans and mobilisation of rescue forces. Local soldiers have rechecked areas at high risks of landslides.
The National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control sent an urgent message to localities on Sunday, asking them to prepare for prolonged downpours and its impacts.
It also asked localities to learn from their experiences and act to minimise damages.
on Thursday, the committee asked the three reservoirs of SonLa, Hoa Binh and TuyenQuang to open one floodgate each on today morning (August 18) to reduce water levels that were high because of the torrential rains.