Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) The Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) said Saturday that 1,373 people were still trapped in isolated mountain villages in southern Taiwan as of that day, after Typhoon Morakot devastated the region the previous weekend, bringing torrential rain that triggered massive flooding and landslides.BBC has a nice graphic of the mountain regions showing some of the problems, along with an article summarizing things to date. AP observes:
The center said it would dispatch 75 helicopters later in the day to the villages in the counties of Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Taitung and Chiayi to conduct rescue missions and drop relief supplies.
Also of note is the Taipei Times' hard-hitting editorial from yesterday, which ended with the following three paragraphs:
Residents have set about the huge task of rebuilding with the help of the army, a company of which was camped out at the local primary school.
As public complaints about the slow rescue work increase, the government said its operations have been hampered because many areas of the country were cut off when roads and bridges had collapsed.
Rescuers have relied on helicopters to reach the worst-hit areas, and on Thursday authorities requested larger choppers from foreign governments capable of carrying earth-moving equipment and shelters.
Many villagers have conducted their own rescue operations. More than 20,000 troops have joined civilian workers on rescue, cleanup and rehabilitation work, officials said.
Following the 921 Earthquake in 1999, US medical professionals studying the adequacy of the response identified a lack of central command, poor communication, lack of cooperation between the government and the military and various medical logistics problems as issues that demanded government attention.It is a start, but it doesn't go far enough. More to the point is Taiwan News' editorial on the link between Taiwan's pell-mell development model, the KMT-created construction-industrial state, and the disaster....
Elsewhere, Taiwan’s Red Cross, in conjunction with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, spent three years developing a handbook and training manuals to improve and promote disaster response. The materials were bilingual and hundreds of copies were produced. But the program, which required ongoing training, allegedly floundered after a management change. The new team, according to a Red Cross report in May 2005, suffered from “limited upper management interest.”
The secretary-general of the new management team was Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).
Like past floods and landslides in the wake of heavy rains, the huge floods sparked by Typhoon Morakot were triggered both by "natural" and decades of "man-made" factors, notably the excessive exploitation and virtually unregulated "development" from resorts to orchards in high-elevation and high elevation mountainous lands and the construction of "industrial roads" that have stripped up cover from sensitive watershed slope lands.Floodplain development doesn't begin to cover it. I hope to enlarge on this in a future post, but let's talk about groundwater pumping, just as an example. Linbian on the coast was one of the hard hit areas in southern Taiwan...
Satellite photographs released Tuesday by National Central University's Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research display how commercial or industrial zones or even hotels, residence and villages built right next to rivers and even inside their respective potential flood plains and "protected" by dikes have been swept away in flatlands such as Shuanghsi Bridge linking Kaohsiung and Pingtung Counties or mountain areas such as Hsiaolin Village in Kaohsiung County.
(link) The research area is located mainly around the southwest coastline in Pingtung County including Linbian, Linyuan, Nanjou, and Cinbe. Owing to the rapid development of pisciculture, serious land subsidence from the excessive withdrawal of groundwater has resulted. According tothe results measured by theTaiwan Conservancy Bureau (Taiwan Conservancy Bureau, 1976), the strata in the region started to subside in 1961. The problem of settlement has become more serious since January 1979, and the rate of settlement was very rapid in the drought period in the first half of 1980, reaching an average rate of about 5 cm per month. The greatest settlement accumulated up till April 1992 was 2.35 m on the right outlet of the Linbian River in Linbian village. Moreover, it spread all around. After land subsidence, the low-lying areas in the region tend to suffer backward flow of seawater.The land in the area had subsided 2.35 meters in some areas, and subsidence was extensive throughout the region. In Linbian alone there were 1,288 known pumping wells in 2003, with twice as many in Chiadong (link).Flooding was unstoppable in this massive rain, but human factors have made the problem much worse than it should have been.
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