Viet Nam Red Cross braces for the arrival of typhoon Haiyan

Published: 10 November 2013 1:11 CET

As Typhoon Haiyan moves across the South China Sea to Viet Nam, the country is bracing for the 15th storm to hit this year alone. Typhoon Wutip, which struck on 30 September, was declared to be the strongest storm to hit central Viet Nam since 2006. Only a short time later, Typhoon Nari followed the same path. And now, the very same communities who are still struggling to recover are facing the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, which is said to be the strongest typhoon in recorded history.

The apparent course of the storm could pose challenges for the government, as it will mean extending its disaster response support for the survivors over a wider area and make it harder to integrate with the existing needs after typhoons Wutip and Nari.

Kiều Văn Thành and his mother are just one example of the many people in central Viet Nam who are desperately trying to meet their basic needs each day. “The water from our well is too salty and muddy for drinking and cooking,” explains Thanh, who is blind. They are struggling to meet basic needs each day, and the roof of their home was blown away during Typhoon Wutip.

Humanitarian assistance is desperately needed in affected areas of Viet Nam, especially in terms of shelter and livelihoods. In early October, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a preliminary emergency appeal for 2.14 million Swiss Francs (USD 2.3,  EURO 1.7) to help the Viet Nam Red Cross Society deliver emergency assistance to 37,500 people following the widespread destruction caused by Wutip.

“Viet Nam is too easily left behind and we simply cannot ignore the needs here of thousands of families,” explains Michael Annear, representative for the IFRC in Viet Nam.  “We have to help people recover from the multiple typhoons – it will take years for them to get back on their feet,” he says.

Dau Minh Tuc is an 81-year old man who has received support from the Red Cross. He fell sick from spending six hours soaked on the roof of his home and stress from the losses due to the flooding. The pots, pans, mosquito net and blankets given by the Red Cross are essential to their daily life today. “In my lifetime, it has never been cold this time of year in Viet Nam. I now need the blankets to keep warm,” he says. Tuc’s family did repair their damaged roof and floor, but the biggest loss they still face is the VND 60 million (USD 2,820) from their eucalyptus farm.

"The loss that people are facing right now in Viet Nam is simply devastating," says Annear. "Three major typhoons in a two-month period is exceptional for Viet Nam. We can only keep doing our best to help, but more support is absolutely necessary to make that happen."