Wednesday, August 19, 2009

p.s. Typhoon Emergency

Much criticism has been pointed toward Taiwan Central Government's response to the emergency of Typhoon Morakot. For every natural disaster, people always have to look for someone to take the responsibility. The rainfall caused by the typhoon is the largest in 200 years, or in Taiwan recorded history. All the dams and dikes were constructed to withstand the largest flood for the past 80 years. Several small pieces of information appeared in the news gave us some insights to government officials' efforts during the crisis.

Yesterday, the Chief of National Fire Agency just collapsed during his work at central command, fortunately he is out of danger in the hospital. The National Fire Agency is one of the major components in the Central Command for Emergency. He has not rested for 13 days with only 1 to 3 hours sleep per day. The Central Commend is staffed by officials sent from all departments related to national emergency. At the peak of the crisis, over one hundred personnel worked 32 hours without sleep at the central command.

Here is a story of how the emergency network works and how it eventually failed in one tragic incidence.

President Ma made a comment during one of his visit to the victims of the Typhoon Morakot. He said, the villagers in a village that was buried in a mud slide should have been evacuated when they were told. For this statement, he committed a political suicide of blaming the victims for their misfortune. Here is the story behind it.

Mr. Cheng and Ms. Liu are local volunteer observers that are trained by the government emergency agency to monitor the local situation during any major natural disasters. These kind of volunteer observers are located in every small village throughout the areas that disasters may strike. They are the first line foot soliders for the disaster management. They reported a rainfall of 1400mm from "Little Lin Village" at 8:31 pm on August 8. When the rainfall reach 800mm, the mud slide and flood warning level is already RED. The central command sent an order for the evacuation of "Little Lin Village" to the county government. By 11 pm, 7 orders had been issued by the county government to the village for evacuation. The villagers did not evacuate! By early morning of August 9, the mud slide hit. Half of the village was buried with close to 400 people missing including Mr. Cheng and Ms. Liu and all their 10 family members. The two stayed at their post till the end. No one can be sure what happened since the head of the village also disappeared in the mud slide. The officials of neighboring villages said they have tried every way to persuade people to leave, in the end, the whole mountain came down, where else can they go?


photowannabe said...

Thank you for this update. There is much sadness for all the devestation in your country.

Q said...

Wow! Such terrible devestation.

shu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shu said...

Perhaps weather changed so fast and furious ... By the time people realized that they needed to evacuate, but it was already too late. We had a huge downpour here the other day. In a few minutes a car was flooded to the window on a road that we travel every day. I have lived here for more than 30 years, never saw weather like this before.


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