Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adaptability is essential in Vietnam

Vietnamese are amazingly adaptable; I greatly admire this quality. To live here one has to be adaptable whether Vietnamese or 'Western'.

This long thin country with the coast hugging its whole length, and with its numerous waterways, is very vulnerable to typhoons, tropical storms and floods.

In my local town Hoi An, most buildings were built with a hatch and a pulley on the second floor to originally pull up products for storage as it was a trading town and a busy port in the past. These hatches are used now to pull up furniture through when it floods. The newer buildings, and renovated building don't have these hatches and require carrying everything up to the mezzanine or second floor; a tedious, but essential process which some businesses and homes have had to do three times in the last two months. Sometimes the flooding is so bad that the flood waters even reach there; fortunately this is rare, but this week was the case for some businesses and homes in Hoi An.

When the market floods as was the case over the last few days, work continues whether there is flooding or not; they just move to another street that isn't flooded. 

 The homes and businesses on the water front suffered the most in our town, on both Hoi An side, on An Hoi and on Cam Nam islands that are adjacent to Hoi An.

In Hoi An after each flood, household items that are damaged are put out on the street and are cleared away within hours. The system is perfect, because flooding is such a normal occurrence. Within two days of major flooding you would never know it happened.

In the countryside around Hoi An, and in the mountains near by the poorest people live very vulnerable lives; often living in flood zones. Regular flooding is normal for them. They accept that they will lose a few days quite often through rainy season to deal with flooding at their homes.

The government does very well at notifying us of possible flooding. When we know of flooding that is due everyone prepares and the most vulnerable are evacuated to higher and safer accommodation, community halls or schools. Unfortunately occasionally not all in the low populated and isolated areas get this warning and help and they suffer the most.

The biggest challenge for all of us is when the dams release water without word getting around that it will happen, or getting to us as they do it. The release of dam water can cause a very rapid rise in water, causing unexpected and very bad flooding. The government does not fine them sufficient enough fines for them not to do this. This is what makes it a very precarious life for all of us, but especially for some of the poor. There is notification more these days, so word is getting out to most of us before it occurs. But what is sad is that those in more isolated areas don't get this last minute information, making it impossible for them to be prepared and to get to somewhere safer,  and sometimes results in fatalities unfortunately.

Today you would not know a flood took place over the weekend; everyone is back at work as the flood waters receded last night and everyone has washed away the mud left behind from their homes, front yards and the path or road in front of their home and thrown away anything that can't be repaired.

The photos were taken by many local friends from my home town over the last few days of flooding.

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