Typhoon Damrey ripped through South-Central Vietnam on November 4, making it the 12th major storm to hit Vietnam this year. With wind speeds of up to 135 km/hour and a reported death toll of 106, Damrey is the strongest storm to hit the region in a decade.
More than 116,000 houses were damaged or completely razed, and destroyed roads caused traffic issues across much of the region. Quang Ngai Province reported the most rain and experienced numerous landslides that left five mountainous regions in complete isolation for five days. This destruction came amidst the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, which was hosted in Da Nang, Vietnam last week.
The immediate response and evacuation strategy implemented during the flooding helped save many lives. Tourists reported having less than 15 minutes to prepare for evacuation as the flood waters rose and became more dangerous in the historic city of Hoi An. Tourists were largely brought to higher elevation via boat, one by one. The city of 120,000, although suffering some of the worst reported flooding thus far has no reported deaths.
With the assistance of about 1,000 soldiers, the community has come together to help dig itself out. Hoi An, which is only 30 minutes away from Da Nang, was due to host the wives of the leaders attending the summit and despite the severity of the damage, residents remained eager to welcome the high-profile visitors. Only four days after the typhoon made landfall in Vietnam, colorful lamps already lined Hoi An’s streets.
After the Vietnamese government requested assistance, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) sent $78,000 in immediate aid and personnel. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is currently monitoring the ongoing situation for Vietnamese children and the possibility of waterborne illnesses. Additionally, the issue of food security has been raised, as many agricultural fields were destroyed and livestock were killed as a result of the typhoon. China and the United States have both pledged to assist with the relief efforts.
The U.S. Agency for International Development will provide a grant of $250,000 on top of an existing $800,000 awarded to the Vietnamese National Red Cross, to help drive community resilience and effective response to national disasters.
“With a grant of $250,000 in disaster relief funds, USAID will provide sanitation, health-related, and commodity relief items to the areas of Vietnam most affected by Typhoon Damrey,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink, in a statement released on Friday. “An additional disaster preparedness grant of $800,000 awarded last month to the Vietnam National Red Cross will benefit approximately 13,700 people directly and 30,000 people indirectly in three target provinces using a community-based approach to build capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters.”
For their own part, Vietnam’s Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control is assessing the situation, and the government has provided funding and troops to help relief efforts across the country.