Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Typhoon Destruction

I just want to say to the good people of Taiwan that you are on my mind and in my prayers this morning as you begin to recover from the terrible destruction of Typhoon Morakot.

I understand that the storm triggered the worst flooding in Taiwan in 50 years, dumping as much as 80 inches (two meters) of rain, driven by winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour during this past weekend. More than 50 people have been confirmed dead with at least that many still reported as missing.

I am very sorry for your losses and I wish you all the best in the days ahead.


Victor said...

This is the first time that the U.S. troops show up in Taiwan ever since the withdrawal in 1979. Aerials of Taiwan
typhoon damage
Updated: Friday, 14 Aug 2009, 4:04 PM EDT

Military sources say the U.S. military is ready to send troops, equipment and supplies to aid Taiwan in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.

The sources say it expects Taiwan to send a request soon for humanitarian assistance.

The U.S. military likely will dispatch a Navy warship, already in the region, with cargo and transport helicopters that can carry relief supplies and relocate people.

Taiwan officials say the death toll from the storm that hit the island last weekend likely will climb above three-hundred after more villagers buried by mudslides and floodwaters are found.

That number now stands at about 118. More than 30 countries and territories are pledging to help.

Victor said...
US plane lands in Taiwan to help mudslide victims
Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:15am EDT
By Lee Chyen Yee

TAIPEI, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The first U.S. military plane to land in Taiwan for three decades arrived on Sunday with building materials to help reconstruction, a week after a typhoon brought devastating floods and mudslides.

The C-130 cargo plane flew to Tainan in Taiwan's south from its base in Okinawa, Japan. It was the first such flight since the U.S. broke off diplomatic ties after adopting a "one-China" policy following detente with mainland China.

The official death toll from Taiwan's worst floods in about 50 years stands at 124, though the final figure may be much higher. Thousands are still trapped in the south of the island by mudslides and disruptions to land transport.

So far, over 60 countries have donated around T$68 million ($2 million) in cash as well as other relief supplies, the foreign ministry said.

Singapore has sent food and medical supplies, and on Sunday Australia sent disinfecting equipment.

The United States and China have both offered to provide heavy-lift helicopters to Taiwan's rescue teams, which are gradually shifting from saving lives to clearing up disaster areas for reconstruction.

Taiwan is considering whether to accept the offer from China, its political rival.

"We're still waiting for the United States to tell us when the helicopters are coming. There should be two and they are able to lift tonnes of heavy cargoes," Transport Minister Mao Chi-kuo told a news conference.

"Regarding mainland China ... we are evaluating whether we need those helicopters they were offering."

Taiwan's semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation said over the weekend its Chinese counterpart was willing to donate building material and pre-fabricated homes.

Typhoon Morakot dumped several metres of rain on Taiwan, washing away bridges, severing roads and triggering landslides that flattened villages, some of which were buried in mud several storeys high.

In addition to the loss of life and homes, official data put the cost to agriculture at T$12 billion.

The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party has accused President Ma Ying-jeou, in office for just over a year, and the government of being slow to respond. [ID:nSP158394]

Visiting disaster areas at the weekend, Ma accepted some blame for the government and himself.

"When something happens to our nation, whether good or bad, I am fully responsible," he said. (US$ = T$32.9)

Don said...

Victor, thanks very much for your latest update. I trust that the American forces will be able to provide the help that is needed.

Victor said...

Don, I just wanna say thanks for what our American friends have done for Taiwan. Two U.S. heavy-lift choppers will arrive on Monday.

U.S. heavy-lift chopper to arrive Monday
Central News Agency 2009-08-16 04:58 PM

Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) At least one U.S. heavy-lift CH-53E helicopter will arrive in Taiwan Monday to assist in relief operations in the southern part of the country, which was devastated by flooding and landslides from Typhoon Morakot, defense officials said Sunday.

"The U.S. military is now working to have its CH-53E helicopter take part in humanitarian post-disaster relief efforts in Taiwan, " said an official with the Ministry of National Defense (MND) , who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, at least one CH-53E helicopter will be delivered by an amphibious transport dock ship, also known as a landing platform dock, to waters near Taiwan from where the chopper will fly to the Tainan air base in southern Taiwan.

If all goes well, the official said, at least one CH-53E chopper will arrive in Tainan Monday at the earliest.

The official would not confirm, however, if the United States will provide one or two such heavy-lift helicopters.

"Our two sides are still in close contact to work out relevant details, " the official said, adding that the Defense Ministry will inform the public once all technical details are settled.

As the CH-53E chopper can transport a 16-ton payload, its arrival is expected to help with relief and rehabilitation work in mountainous areas that were cut off from the outside world in the storm, the official added.

Typhoon Morakot, which dumped more than 2500 mm of precipitation -- the equivalent of a whole year's rainfall -- in some parts of Taiwan Aug. 7-9, proved lethal in several remote villages that dot mountains in the southern counties of Kaohsiung and Pingtung.

A National Fire Administration official said earlier this week that Taiwan urgently needs helicopters that can carry cranes and other heavy-duty machinery into flood- and landslide-ravaged mountainous villages to help rescue those who might still be stranded.

The storm, one of the worst natural disasters to batter Taiwan in half a century, had officially killed at least 124 people across Taiwan and left 45 injured and 56 others unaccounted for as of 10 p.m. Saturday.

Those numbers do not include the potentially hundreds of people believed to have been buried in landslides in remote mountainous areas of southern Taiwan, especially in Siaolin village in Kaohsiung County.