Red Cross staff and volunteer of Thai Thuy district, Thai Binh helping communities to anchor their boats in anticipation of Typhoon Nesat. Tran Quang Tuan/Viet Nam Red Cross
Flooding caused by two typhoons is affecting hundreds of thousands of people across South-East Asia, including in the Philippines, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Loas and Thailand. Hundreds have been killed and thousands left homeless as the flood waters rose. In some areas, residents and authorities are describing the flooding as the worst in living memory.
Since late July, a series of typhoons and tropical storms have made their way west from the Philippines and drenched much of the region.
In Viet Nam, communities in Thai Binh province in the country’s north east were subjected to strong winds and heavy rains as typhoon Nesat made landfall late on Friday 30 September. After Nesat came Negale which has been downgraded since hitting the Philippines but is still expected to bring significant rain.
In Thai Binh province, Viet Nam Red Cross Society (VRCS) volunteers spent much of Friday working with communities to prepare for Nesat’s arrival. Volunteers helped families, particularly those with elderly members and the very poor, to tie down roofs and bring in rice harvests ahead of the storm. These actions, combined with early warnings issued by VRCS and the American Red Cross, offered communities along the coast a small sense of security.
Volunteers also worked with local fishermen to anchor about 300 boats. Families in Thai Binh are largely dependent on fishing and rice farming, so steps like these go a small but important way towards ensuring that communities will be able to recover quickly.
The fear in Viet Nam is that this water will find its way into the Mekong River, through Cambodia and back into southern Viet Nam, where the Mekong Delta is experiencing the worst floods in a decade. 5.2 million people in the delta provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap and Long An are at serious risk.
The swelling Mekong, and other water washing from the north, is also causing havoc in Cambodia. According to the government, 16 of the country’s 24 provinces have been affected, with only the south-western provinces spared. A Cambodian Red Cross assessment of the 10 worst affected provinces suggests that at least 72,300 people have been affected, with 2,300 houses damaged or destroyed.
Recurring storms have seen huge parts of the north, centre and north-east of Thailand affected by some of the worst flooding in 50 years. Since July, more than 200 people have been killed and more than 2.8 million people have been affected.
The Thai Red Cross, through its chapters and health stations, has been active since the waters started to rise. Volunteers and staff have reached 338,128 people in 28 provinces through relief distributions, the provision of clean water, and with rescue and evacuation services.
But the situation may be set to worsen. Once the storms pass Viet Nam they typically drop their last rain over Thailand. There are concerns that flooding could soon reach Bangkok, and may be joined by monsoonal flooding in the south.