Journalism from the heart of crises

Welcome to the beta version of our site. We'll be working as hard as we can over the next few days to smooth out any glitches. If something looks odd, please let us know by getting in touch here.

Picking up the pieces after Ketsana

Government sources report at least 92 people were killed and 19 more were missing when Typhoon Ketsana struck central Vietnam on 29 September 2009.
Geoffrey Cain/IRIN

On 29 September, Huynh Thi Kem, 53, awoke to winds ripping through her sleepy beach town at 144km per hour, and debris and tree branches flying through the cluttered streets.



Some trees fell on to the wood and aluminium huts, nearly destroying them. Her one-room home now consists of a few scattered walls, torn apart by a tree trunk. That night, she slept in the rain.



“Typhoons happen every year, and we just live with it and move on,” Kem told IRIN. “Do houses get damaged and rebuilt? Yes, every year. Do entire neighbourhoods crumble, and so many become homeless? Not like this, not since 1999.”



That year, the worst floods experienced in a decade left 750 people dead or missing.



One of the most destructive storms in years, Ketsana first made landfall in the Philippines on 26 September before strengthening over the South China Sea, striking Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.



According to Kem, her village of Non Nuoc - about 25km east of Danang, Vietnam’s fourth-largest city – has not seen any aid yet.



“Aid didn’t come here because our village doesn’t have much flooding, but at least 15 or 20 houses are gone,” she said.
























Read more
 INDONESIA: Rescuers struggle to reach Sumatra quake victims
 PHILIPPINES: Disease threatens as Manila braces for another storm
 PHILIPPINES: Ketsana underscores climate change imperative
 VIETNAM: Preparation "helped to save lives"
 More Natural disasters reports

“It’ll cost us years of savings to get our lives going again… poorer people like me might have no chance.”



Rescue and reconstruction



Aid agencies report that flooding, fallen trees and power lines have cut off certain areas in central Vietnam, making them inaccessible to aid workers.



“Many places near Danang are isolated through severe flooding,” Le Van Duong, a Danang-based aid coordinator from NGO World Vision told IRIN on 30 September. “We’re focusing on getting food aid to those areas.”



While much of Danang escaped serious damage, surrounding areas, including the coastal city of Hoi An, were less fortunate.



According to the government, on 29 September, the central provinces of Quang Nam, Thua Tien Hue and Quang Tri were hit hardest by flood waters nearly 2m high.



At least 92 people have been confirmed dead with 19 still missing, the country’s Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control (CCFSC) reported on 1 October.



One day earlier, World Vision reported in a statement that 5,800 houses had collapsed and 163,000 had their roofs blown off.












Typhoon Ketsana, as of 30 September, had killed hundreds and displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (<a href="http://pictures.irinnews.org/images/2009/originals/200910011251260735.jpg" target="_blank">see la

ReliefWeb
Typhoon Ketsana, as of 30 September, had killed hundreds and displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (<a href="http://pictures.irinnews.org/images/2009/originals/200910011251260735.jpg" target="_blank">see la...
http://www.reliefweb.int/
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Picking up the pieces after Ketsana
Typhoon Ketsana, as of 30 September, had killed hundreds and displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (<a href="http://pictures.irinnews.org/images/2009/originals/200910011251260735.jpg" target="_blank">see la...


Photo: ReliefWeb
Typhoon Ketsana, as of 30 September, had killed hundreds and displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (see larger version of map)

Aid workers are now distributing 1,000 family food aid packs to 5,000 people in affected areas.



Yet the current amount of aid will not be enough to sustain a fully fledged reconstruction effort, said Huynh Duc Truong, head of the Danang Union of Friendship Organization, a Vietnamese NGO that is helping to coordinate a reconstruction plan for Danang.



“We know both the local NGOs and the local government have very limited resources,” he told IRIN. “We need much more help from foreign organizations.”



However, he said effective planning may have averted thousands of deaths.



Vietnamese-language newspapers reported that, at 2:30pm on 29 September, the government ordered five helicopters, several armoured vehicles and boats to evacuate 350,000 people from Quang Nam, Thua Tien Hue and Quang Tri.



Pattern of suffering



Yet for Huynh Thi Kem, the typhoon is just part of a larger pattern of suffering in central Vietnam.



“Every year in central Vietnam we suffer from horrible things - famine, droughts, floods, storms,” she said. “The NGOs rebuild our villages only to have them destroyed again in five years. I don’t think any amount of aid can stop the suffering.”



For now, she has her three sons to help her. “They help their old mother, they help her build the house, but how long will they have to skip their jobs for this? We don’t have much time before we go hungry,” she lamented.



Floods and storms in Vietnam have become more powerful and recurrent in recent years, according to a 2008 report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).



Located in a typhoon zone, with a long coastline and extensive river deltas, the country is close to the top of the global disaster league table. On average, there are six to eight typhoons each year, the report said.



gc/ds/mw
Share this article
Join the discussion

Support our work

Donate now

advertisement

advertisement