Rep. of Korea: After a double blow, typhoon victims say Seoul was part of their problems

Report
from JoongAng Daily
Published on 17 Sep 2003
Gangwon province - Busily scrubbing the corners of his sashimi store, which had been flooded by Typhoon Maemi, Lee Seung-yong talked about conflicting emotions. His store is at Cheolam Market in Taebaek, Gangwon province.

"I am angry. But what can I do? I have no choice but to start again," he said. "I cannot believe that I have to suffer all over again when I just recently finished repairing the damage caused by flooding last year from Typhoon Rusa."

Mr. Lee reopened his shop in November 2002 after spending 42 million won ($36,000) to repair damage wrought by Rusa. Thirty million won of those funds were a bank loan.

Then the new storm came through last weekend.

"I thought about giving up, but this is my home," he said.

He is one of about 150 shop owners doing business in the market that have been hit by typhoons in two consecutive years. Yesterday morning, they were busy trying to rebuild their lives. Gangwon province, along the east coast, is one of the three areas that Maemi hit; the others were the two Gyeongsang provinces to the south - and all three were hit by both storms.

Residents in Dogye-eup, an area of Samcheok, a city in Gangwon province, were also busy sorting out the damage and beginning repairs with help from soldiers. About 580 houses were destroyed because of the typhoon - a loss greater than the damage toll from last year's typhoon.

"I could not bring anything out. I don't know how I am going to live," mourned Ahn Seung-dae, 63.

"Fortunately, the typhoon this year did not hit me as badly," said Lee Yong-gi, 39, whose home was submerged during the typhoon-driven flooding.

In the wake of the typhoon, accusations of shoddy repair work and unkept government promises after last year's typhoon began to emerge. Some residents said that poor restoration work had added to their problems.

Residents in another village in Samcheok said the makeshift steel bridge erected during last year's reconstruction work had blocked the flow of water under the bridge, causing floodwaters to rise more than anticipated.

"Our region received about half the amount of rain that fell last year," said Chang Man-yong, 43, an employee with the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation. "The damage is mainly due to late and sham repairs."

The government is expected to designate the areas affected by the latest typhoon as special disaster regions, Yoon Tai-young, the Blue House spokesman, told a cabinet meeting yesterday, but that designation is not expected before Sept. 24.

by Lee Chan-ho

JoongAng Daily:
(c)JoongAng Ilbo, The information provided in this product is for personal use only. None of it may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of JoongAng Ilbo.