Viet Nam Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control

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VIET NAM COUNTRY REPORT

By: Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Dong, Director, Disaster Management Centre

DEPARTMENT OF DYKE MANAGEMENT AND FLOOD AND STORM CONTROL

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CONTENTS

1. Flood and Typhoon Situation *

2. Damage caused by the storms and flood (up to 31 December 1998) *

3. Actions taken to Guide, to Respond to, and to Combat the Effects of the Floods and Storms *

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In 1998, Viet Nam suffered a number of severe disasters. Most notable were the serious summer drought and the severe flooding in Central Viet Nam which resulted from Tropical Storms Babs, Chip, Dawn, Faith, and Elvis, causing tremendous loss of life and property damage. In this report we will concentrate on the flood disaster that occurred in the Central and Central Highlands Provinces of Viet Nam.

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1. Flood and Typhoon Situation

From November to December 1998, Storms Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 struck the Central and Central Highlands Provinces of Vietnam in succession. The storms combined with a cold front from the North and high tides to cause heavy rain in coastal provinces from Quang Binh to Binh Thuan and in the Central Highlands. Average rainfall was measured at about 200 to 600 mm, while at A Luoi (in Thua Thien Hue), as well as at Tra My, Xuan Binh, and Tien Phuoc (in Quang Nam-Da Nang) rainfall averaged 800 to 1,200 mm. Rain over a large area raised the water levels on rivers from Quang Tri Province to Khanh Hoa Province above Alarm Level III (the highest Vietnamese flood-disaster Alarm Level designation). On the Thu Bon, Vu Gia, Tra Khuc, and Cai Ninh Hoa rivers, water levels rose 0.8 to 2.8 m above Alarm Level III.

This flood is the greatest since 1975, and similar to the record flood of 1964.

In 1998, the Central Provinces paid great attention to flood and typhoon preparedness. Early in 1998, the Prime Minister issued a Directive to the provinces instructing them to develop preparedness plans for controlling the effects of floods and storms, for protecting transportation infrastructure and hydraulic structures, and for protecting agriculture from floods and storms. In June 1998, the Government also assisted local authorities to put in place strategies for drought prevention and flood and storm control. However, due to abnormal weather conditions, to the unique topography of the area, and to the rapid succession of storms No. 4, No. 5, No.6, No.7 and No.8, there was heavy rain and extensive flooding throughout the Centre of the country.

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2. Damage caused by the storms and flood (up to 31 December 1998)

- People killed: 397

- People missing: 26

- People injured: 121

- Houses collapsed, swept away: 11,151

- Houses flooded, damaged: 533,786

- Schools collapsed, swept away: 167

- Schools flooded, damaged: 1,862

- Paddy flooded, damaged: 132,227ha

- Other crops flooded, damaged: 42,296 ha

- Hydraulic structures:

Transportation:

Fishery:

Total Estimated Economic Loss: 1,632 billion VND (approximately US$ 118 million)

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Starting on 19 November 1998, floods rendered many transport roads in Central Vietnam impassable. Many segments of Highway 1A were flooded, some with as much as 2 m of water. There was flooding along many sections of the main North-South railway, resulting in the erosion, in many places, of earth from railway embankments. In provinces from Quang Binh to Quang Ngai, inter-provincial and inter-district roads were deeply submerged under floodwaters; thousands of transport trucks were left stuck or stranded as a result. Transport in this area was rendered impossible.

Human losses were mainly a result of capsized fishing-boats and houses swept away by floodwaters.

The provinces that suffered the greatest loss of human life include Quang Nam Province (51 persons killed), Quang Ngai Province (86 persons killed) and Binh Dinh (57 persons killed).

Provinces where many houses were damaged include Quang Nam Province (204,678 houses), Thua Thien Hue Province (147,608 houses) and Quang Tri Province (26,505 houses).

Almost all areas planted with spring-winter rice, all mature rice paddy ready for harvest, and areas planted with other crops, were flooded for many days. This flooding caused massive economic damage, and will seriously affect the living conditions of local residents in 1999.

Serious damage to infrastructure ? which affected the transportation system, schools, aqua-culture ponds, boats, and stocks, etc. ? will have a direct affect on the lives of people in these provinces over the coming year.

Private property, particularly that of people living near rivers and lagoons or in coastal zones, was severely damaged. Famine and homelessness threaten many families; many schools remain closed; and many ill people need medicine and treatment.

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3. Actions taken to Guide, to Respond to, and to Combat the Effects of the Floods and Storms

1. Further to the Prime Ministerfs Directives and to the Political Bureaufs announcement on 1998 activities for flood and storm control, given the high level of awareness of flood and storm hazards in the Central Provinces, and based on experience gained from Typhoon Linda in 1997 and from the severe drought in early 1998,

- The Provinces have actively developed plans for flood and storm prevention, for limiting the number of people, boats and ships, and the amount of infrastructure vulnerable to disaster.

- Before and during storms, provincial leaders monitored and expedited flood and storm response measures. Local authorities oversaw the evacuation of people living in low-lying areas, areas near river-mouths, and coastal areas, such as those in Phu Yen Province, Da Nang Province, and Thua Thien Hue Province.

- Provincial leaders reviewed plans for the protection of reservoirs and hydraulic structures, in such provinces as Binh Dinh, Quang Nam, and Quang Binh.

- Teams of Guards were assigned to flooded areas to direct passers-by; school children were excused from school when flood water levels were high.

- The Provinces and the Police force guaranteed safety and security in affected areas, and ensured that prices remained stable.

- The Provinces mobilised all available means to help each other: food, medicine and clothing from the population of Da Nang City were distributed in flooded areas, principally the districts Duy Xuyen, Dai Loc, Dien Bai, Que Son in Quang Nam Province.

However, the simultaneous occurrence of the flood and storms cut off many areas and hindered response activities. In many districts and communes, insufficient capacities and facilities for responding to the disaster hindered both delivery of relief aid and efforts to combat the effects of the floods and storms.

2. During the flood season, the CCFSC monitored the flood situation closely, and sent frequent official telegrams to the provinces to direct provincial responses to tropical depressions, storms, heavy rain, and floods. The CCFSC also reported flood conditions to the Government so that directives could be issued promptly.

The CCFSC also dispatched officials to the provinces of Quang Nam, Da Nang, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue to direct these provinces in responding to and combating the effects of the flood and storms.

The Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control (CCFSC) co-operated with Provincial People's Committees, and Army Headquarters for Zones IV and V and in the provinces, in implementing flood control measures, evacuating people, mobilising rescue ships and helicopters, and supplying food and essential commodities to areas heavily hit by the flooding.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting monitored and reported promptly on the location of tropical depressions and storms, and flood trends on rivers.

Viet Nam Television, the Voice of Viet Nam, and other communication agencies issued regular announcements on flood and storm conditions to help provinces implement storm and flood response measures.

3. On 21 November 1998, the Primer Minister sent an official telegram to request the Peoplefs Committees of provinces from Quang Binh to Binh Thuan, and all relevant Ministries, to monitor closely the flood and storm situation, to warn people promptly, to mobilise all forces for flood and storm preparedness and prevention, and to prepare plans for overcoming the effects of floods and storms.

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On 22 November 1998, Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, Vice Prime Minister, inspected the flood and storm situation in person. He visited people affected by floods and storms in Quang Ngai Province and Binh Dinh Province. He directed the Ministries and provinces to respond to and overcome the effects of the floods and storms.

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The Government of Viet Nam has decided to allocate 20 billion VND to the affected provinces: 4 billion VND to Quang Nam Province, and 1 to 2 billion VND to each province from Quang Tri to Binh Thuan. The Government will also steer supplies of food, seeds, fertiliser and medical help to local people. The Ministry of Health has already sent a huge amount of medicine to the affected provinces and continues to direct other relevant organisations in supporting local people.

The Ministries of Planning and Investment; Finance; Transportation and Communications; Agriculture and Rural Development; Fisheries; Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs; Health; Defence; Police; and related organisations inspected conditions on-site, to assist provinces and local people in combating difficulties caused by the flooding, in reviving production and in returning to normal living conditions.

Mr. Le Kha Phieu, Secretary General of the Communist Party, Mr. Tran Duc Luong, President of Viet Nam, and Mr. Phan Van Khai, Prime Minister, issued official telegrams expressing their sympathy for local people affected by the flood, and requested all relevant organisations to help the Central Provinces in overcoming the effects of the storms and flood.

Numerous organisations, unions, provinces and people across the country gave their help to people in the Central Provinces.

Due to the severe effects of the storms and flood in the Central Provinces, as reported by the CCFSC and related Ministries, the Prime Minister has decreed the following response measures:

1. Emergency Relief Aid:

Total emergency relief funds for the above items are approximately 28 billion VND. The Government made the Chairmen of the Peoplefs Committees of the affected provinces responsible for distributing these funds.

2. Funds for rehabilitating production and the living conditions of local people

Total funds are estimated at 150 to 200 billion VND.

The Government directed the Ministry of Finance to review the National budget and report on it to the Government for its decision on support for the Central Provinces

3. Low-interest loans for reviving production:

Funds in the amount of 400 to 500 billion VND (equivalent to the allocation for Typhoon Linda) have been allocated for low-interest loans for reviving production.

4. Implementation of Relief Aid

  1. The Government directs the CCFSC and other related Ministries and organisations to develop a strategy for flood, storm and drought control; to solve problems of transportation, hydraulics, housing planning; to time and adjust crop cultivation patterns in accordance with the topography and disaster hazards common to Central Viet Nam, and to minimise damage caused by drought, floods and storms.