Hanoi Hit by Record Floods

Hanoi, Vietnam has been hit by its worst floods in 35 years.  Between Friday and Monday, more than 60 centimeters of rain paralyzed the city, causing massive damage and some twenty deaths. And some citizens are wondering why the city was not better prepared. In Hanoi, Matt Steinglass has more.

Residents make their way through a flooded street in Hanoi, 03 Nov 2008
Residents make their way through a flooded street in Hanoi, 03 Nov 2008

The rain began falling Thursday night in Hanoi.  And for five days, it did not let up.  By Monday, 800 millimeters of rain had fallen on parts of the city in Hanoi’s worst flooding in 35 years.

About 20 people have been killed, including three schoolchildren who fell through uncovered storm drains.

There have been power outages across much of the Hanoi.  Thousands of cars and motorbikes have been abandoned in chest-high floodwaters, causing massive traffic jams.

But for some, the clouds over Hanoi have a silver lining.  Thirty-eight year old taxi driver Do Xuan Kien says the rain had been good for business.

Kien says so many taxis have been abandoned in deep water that the ones that still operate have been doing extra business.  His earnings have risen from $40 to $180 a day.  But overall, the flooding has paralyzed business.

Nguyen Thi Linh owns a small rice restaurant for office workers.  She says the storms have hit her business hard.

Linh says she could not get to the supermarket to buy food for three days, and she has had to close her restaurant.

The floods have put much of the farmland around Hanoi under a meter of water.  The government’s storm and flood control department says 50,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed.

The price of food at some Hanoi markets has risen as much as 500 percent.

Garage manager Vu Duc Quyen says the city government is at fault for much of the damage for not building better infrastructure.

Quyen says roads in Vietnam are bad and that it  takes only a heavy rain to bring traffic to a halt.

Although Hanoi authorities say they are spending some $300 million to improve the city’s drainage systems, the city’s sewage company says it has just one pumping station to empty the city’s rivers and lakes, which now threaten to overflow.

Forecasters predict more rain for Tuesday.  And people in Hanoi who live near the city’s rivers and lakes have been warned to prepare for major flooding.

VOA News – Hanoi Hit by Record Floods

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