The monsoon season brings floods and storms across Southeast Asia

Published: 2 October 2013 15:47 CET
A house damaged by Typhoon Wutip in Viet Nam’s Ha Tinh province. It is the tenth tropical storm to strike the country this year. Photo: IFRC

By Ly Nguyen and Kate Roux, IFRC

At least eight people were killed and 35 injured after Typhoon Wutip made landfall in central Viet Nam on 30 September. This is the tenth tropical storm to strike the country this year and the strongest storm since Typhoon Xangsane hit central Viet Nam exactly seven years ago, on 1 October 2006.

The Typhoon ripped across four provinces — Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue and Ha Tinh — leaving behind a trail of destruction. With sustained winds of 117 kilometers per hour, Wutip damaged nearly 36,000 hectares of crops and forests, over 50 kilometres of dykes and canals, schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure. The Vietnam Red Cross Society reports that over 150,000 homes either suffered damage or collapsed,and close to 80,000 households have found shelter with friends or relatives.

“The typhoon has caused extensive damage throughout the province,” said Nguyen Mau Thuong, a staff member from Quang Binh Red Cross Chapter. “Seven districts and the city are severely affected. Roads are blocked by trees, preventing us from approaching remote villages and making it difficult to gauge the extent of the damage.”

Funding from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) enabled three Vietnam Red Cross Society provincial disaster response teams to deploy on the day the typhoon struck. The teams are now undertaking emergency assessments in the five provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa.

The funds also helped the Vietnam Red Cross Society to mobilize volunteers who helped to evacuate 100,000 people in advance of the typhoon. The volunteers provided local residents with updates and warnings about the progress of the typhoon using loud speakers. Now, they are assisting families in repairing their houses and have begun distributing relief stocks.

Many neighbouring Southeast Asian countries are also struggling trying to cope with the flooding caused by seasonal monsoon rains, which have been worsened by a succession of tropical storms and typhoons. The impact of Typhoon Wutip, as it travels from Viet Nam into Laos and northern Thailand, is expected to worsen the situation.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been experiencing flooding since June. Some 350,000 people are currently affected and the floods in the south of the country are reportedly the worst in 35 years. That figure could rise significantly as Typhoon Wutip completes its passage.

In Cambodia, close to 400,000 people have been affected by flooding that has struck in ten provinces. Around 780,000 households across 25 provinces in Thailand are affected and more than 15,000 people have been evacuated to safety.

Despite the impact that the floods are having in each country, Red Cross National Societies have been playing a critical role in response efforts. As well as working with their local authorities in providing early warning alerts and helping to evacuate people to safety, they have been providing relief and medical assistance to vulnerable communities.

“There is great concern across the region about the situation we have on our hands,” states Anne E. Leclerc, the IFRC’s head of delegation for Southeast Asia. “The arrival of consecutive storms on top of the monsoon rains could make this an exceptional year for flooding.”

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