Red Cross prepares for the worst in Taiwan as super typhoon brings heavy rains

Published: 8 July 2016 10:03 CET

Rescue teams from the Taiwan Red Cross Organization are on standby and are prepared to mobilize after category five Super Typhoon Nepartak slammed into Taiwan earlier today, bringing heavy rains and strong winds of up to 175 miles per hour. Thousands of households experienced power outages as the typhoon caused damages to buildings particularly in Taitung, eastern Taiwan.

Around 15,000 people have been moved to evacuation centres ahead of the storm. Heavy rains are expected to continue in the next few days, which is of particular concern in the eastern and southern region where the island’s rugged mountain terrain increases the risk of flooding and landslides during a typhoon.

Taiwan Red Cross Organization staff have been stationed in the Central Emergency Operation Center since the evening of 6 July. With prepositioned equipment and relief supplies, the Red Cross issued a general alert to all disaster preparedness centers and local branches and have volunteers in the Taitung and Hualien chapters on standby to help affected communities as the need arises.

Michael Yang, captain of the Xindian rescue team for the Taiwan Red Cross Organization said, “We were contacted by the fire department on Thursday morning, asking us to be ready to deploy. So we prepared our rescue equipment – boat, engines, radio and headlights.”

Michael also explained that the biggest danger now would come from the heavy rains, especially in the mountain areas where there is a real risk of landslides and floods. “Rivers in the mountains are very dangerous,” he added. “Last year we had a big typhoon and many people died. Houses in the mountains collapsed. That’s why our rescue teams are so important and why we’ll remain on standby.” 

According to local government officials, thousands of tourists have already been evacuated from the Green and Orchid Islands, two popular tourist spots off the coast of Taiwan. 45 people have been reported injured in the Taitung area, but there are no further damages reported in other parts of the country. The typhoon is expected to lose momentum by the evening of July 8 and become a category four before it hits China, which would exacerbate the situation in areas already affected by floods.

For updates on the typhoon and other Red Cross operations in the Asia Pacific region, follow @IFRCAsiaPAcific